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"A nationally rising director" 

Windy City Times

"Superbly directed...I was knocked out, frankly"

Chicago Tribune

"A dynamic display of artistic excellence"



Having lived in New Delhi, India until she was 12 and then traveling through various communities and exploring performance practices from all over the world for the rest of her upbringing, Sophiyaa understands theatre and film as hybrids. She creates interdisciplinary and genre-bending work that challenges existing narratives surrounding (im)migration.


She is a member of the WP Lab 2020-22, 3Arts Make a Wave Grantee, a Definition Theatre ensemble member, member of Director's Lab Chicago 2017 and a resident in Milwaukee Rep’s 2017/18 season. Recent directing credits include Plural (Love) by Jen Goma and Haruna Lee (WP, Pipeline Festival); Shakuntala by Lavina Jadhwani (Future Labs, Goodman Theatre); Love in The Time of Jonestown: A Radio Play by Omer Abbas Salem (New Coordinates); Good Years by Ada Alozie (Film, Definition Theatre) and Pretty Shahid by Omer Abbas Salem (Jackalope Theatre).


AD credits include Search for Signs... with Cecily Strong (Leigh Silverman) and Nollywood Dreams (Saheem Ali). She was part of the SDC Foundation’s Observership Class, through which she worked on Soft Power by Jeanine Tesori and David Henry Hwang at The Public. Her production of EthiopianAmerica by Sam Kebede (Definition Theatre) won Black Theatre Alliance Awards for Best Play, Featured Actor and Actress and a Jeff award for Fight Choreography. She has developed work with Steppenwolf, Center Theatre Group, The Shed, American Players Theatre, Writers Theatre, Jackalope, Milwaukee Rep and MCC theatre, among others.  

I was knocked out, frankly, by how well Nayar caught how teenage boys do and do not show affection. Everything about this show feels lived.
- Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune

Recent film - Chhaya

Trailer for Sophiyaa's most recent film. Learn more about it at

Directing Reel

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