personal story

Raised in Dayton, Ohio, a child of a heroin addicted incarcerated father in and out prison 60 times and an older brother addicted to crack cocaine also in and out prison, Daniel Beaty is a passionate advocate for criminal justice reform as well as a voice for the impact of mass incarceration on children and families. For years, Daniel battled low self-esteem and depression rooted in his childhood trauma even as he graduated from Yale University and American Conservatory Theater. Early in his professional career as Daniel began to explore his creative voice, he also taught the performing arts in some of NYC’s most challenged schools.  He soon discovered the power of the arts to help heal childhood trauma, transform that pain into power, and inspire a new generation of change agents to dismantle the systematic racism and oppression at the core of the challenges Daniel, his father, brother, students and so many Americans face. 


Daniel’s work as an actor, singer, writer, and activist is deeply rooted in a desire to tell stories that illuminate our shared humanity by giving voice to the voiceless and often overlooked in our society. He believes story is at the heart of every challenge and every possibility, and we individually and collectively have the power to write a story that creates opportunity and access for all.  Daniel believes a core strategy to accomplish this goal is to create complex, layered portrayals of the most overlooked in our society through his plays, music, films, television shows, and books as well as to empower our nation’s most vulnerable and disenfranchised young people to heal and become social justice leaders in their communities through his program I Dream. Despite the challenges and confusion that currently plague our nation, together we can frame a narrative of deep humanity and create an America that provides equal opportunity for all of her citizens.

“The voice of a movement that needs to be heard…”

 Ben Vereen 


Daniel Beaty is an award-winning actor, singer, writer, and community activist. He is the co-writer and lead actor of the upcoming feature film Chapter & Verse with Loretta Devine and Omari Hardwick about a man who re-integrates into society after eight years in prison. His critically acclaimed plays THROUGH THE NIGHT, EMERGENCY, MR. JOY, BREATH & IMAGINATION, and THE TALLEST TREE IN THE FOREST – PAUL ROBESON, have been produced at leading theaters across the nation and venues ranging from Lincoln Center to the White House, garnering numerous awards including an Obie award for writing and performance and three NAACP Theatre Awards. A highly requested keynote speaker, Daniel has spoken throughout the U.S., Europe, and Africa.


In 2012, Daniel created I Dream, a nationally recognized social justice initiative that uses the tools of the arts, immersive group exercises, and trauma recovery to support young people to rewrite the story of race and class inequity in America, and create social justice projects to make that new story reality. I Dream has reached over 2000 young people in three cities across the nation, Watts, CA; Omaha, NE; and Boston, MA. 


A graduate of Yale University (BA) and American Conservatory Theatre (MFA), Daniel has developed original TV shows for Showtime and Fox/Imagine, and recently completed a documentary about the impact of mass incarceration on children and families called BEHIND THE GLASS. A child of an incarcerated parent himself, Daniel’s poem KNOCK KNOCK is an Internet sensation receiving millions of views and has been made into a children's book, also titled KNOCK KNOCK, published by Little Brown Books. Penguin-Random House published his empowerment book TRANSFORMING PAIN TO POWER in 2014.

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Photos taken by Lelund Durond


Website by Mojo Visual