West holds a degree from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. She worked as a social worker and taught before turning to playwriting.
In 1990, she came to Seattle for The Group Theatre's Multicultural Playwrights Festival, where she won the opportunity to workshop her play, Before It Hits Home. That play went on to be produced at Arena Stage. June 12, 1991, her play, Jar the Floor, world premiered at Seattle's The Empty Space Theater. In 1999, she relocated to Seattle.
She won a National Endowment for the Arts Playwrighting Award for 1995-96. Also making a successful foray into film, her play Before It Hits Home has been optioned by Spike Lee; and she has been asked to pen a film adaptation for Home Box Office and write an original screenplay for Paramount Studios. She had been commissioned to write a dramatic adaptation of Richard Wright's 1940 novel Native Son.
In 2012, the Seattle Repertory Theatre premiered her play, Pullman Porter Blues.
- Before It Hits Home Susan Smith Blackburn Prize Co-winner, 1990, AUDELCO Award for Outstanding Play, 1991, Helen Hayes Charles McArthur Award Winner, Outstanding New Play, 1992
- Jar the Floor, Beverly Hills/Hollywood NAACP Best Play, 1995
- Before It Hits Home. Dramatists Play Service, Inc. 1999. ISBN 978-0-8222-1322-2.
- Jar the Floor. Dramatists Play Service, Inc. 2002. ISBN 978-0-8222-1809-8.
- Puddin 'n Pete - 1993
- Holiday Heart - 1994
- Play On! - 1997
- Birdie Blue - 2005 
- Addy: An American Girl Story.
- Pullman Porter Blues - 2012 
- Diary of a Single Mom (1 episode, 2009)
- Life Raft (2009) TV episode (writer)
- Glitter (2001) (story)
- Holiday Heart (2000) (TV) (play) (teleplay)
- Play On! (2000) (TV) (writer)