About Saidu Tejan-Thomas Jr.

Saidu Tejan-Thomas Jr. was born in Freetown, Sierra Leone to his now late parents Aminata Sumah and Saidu Tejan-Thomas. After the Sierra Leonean Civil War, he immigrated to the United States to live with his mother. Saidu arrived in 2001, just as the US was on the brink of its own war. He had left one crisis and landed on the eve of another, but what he was most worried about at eight years old was fitting in at school. Saidu spent weeks practicing his English in the mirror by acting out characters he’d seen on TV. But on his first day, he was too shy to correct his teachers when they read his name wrong at roll call.

Storytelling was a way for Saidu to reclaim his identity in his new home. While earning a degree in public relations from Virginia Commonwealth University, Saidu started writing poetry. He then cofounded an organization called Good Clear Sound to help others write and perform their work. As an actor, Saidu appeared in various theatrical productions and was honored to train under Doctor Tawnya Pettiford-Wates in the African methodology of Ritual Poetic Drama.

For more than a decade, Saidu has been committed to amplifying the voices of Black and Brown people. In 2016, Saidu was lucky to be chosen as one of nine people to study the craft of audio storytelling at the prestigious Transom Story Workshop. He went on to intern at National Public Radio and then to work at Gimlet Media, a national podcast production studio. At Gimlet, Saidu coproduced Uncivil, a Peabody Award-winning podcast that told the story of the American Civil War from the perspective of marginalized people.

In 2020, after the murder of George Floyd, Saidu cocreated Resistance, a show about people refusing to accept things as they are. He documented the stories of everyday Americans fighting for justice—a teacher turned agitator, a designer turned politician, a student turned movement leader—he captured the moment people transformed into the heroes they’d been waiting for. Resistance was the recipient of a Columbia University Dart Award and Saidu was named a finalist for the University of Michigan Livingston awards. Saidu’s work has been featured by The New York Times, This American Life, and many others. He is currently studying acting at Terry Knickerbocker Studio. His MFA will go towards developing a practice that combines journalism and theatre to support communities through the arts. 


  • MFA in Acting, New York University (NYU)
  • BA in Mass Communications, Concentration in Public Relations, Virginia Commonwealth University

Professional Fields

Milestones and Recognition

  • Peabody Award (2018)
  • Terry Knickerbocker Studios Notable Student (2022)

Related Articles

Meet More Fellows