Lynn Manning

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Lynn Manning (born April 30, 1955[1]) is a playwright, poet and actor well known for his autobiographical work that explores the complexities of life as a blind African-American man.


Lynn Manning's life was turned upside down when he was blinded in a Hollywood bar in 1978 at age 23 in a random act of violence.[1] He has since gone on to make a name for himself as a playwright and actor.

He is best known for his semi-autobiographical work Weights, which premiered in Los Angeles in 2001. The play has won three NAACP Theatre Awards including Best Actor for Lynn's role in the play, and has since been performed throughout the country, including at the Theater By The Blind in New York City.

Lynn's latest play, Up From The Downs had its world premiere at the Los Angeles Design Center on May 7, 2005.

Early life[edit]

Lynn Manning was born in Fresno, California, but raised in Los Angeles, and has eight siblings. At a young age he and his siblings were placed into foster homes. At 23 years of age, he lost his eyesight after suffering a gunshot to the face.


He is an award winning playwright, poet, actor, and former world champion of blind judo. He represented the United States at the 1988 and 1992 Summer Paralympics, winning a silver medal and receiving the U.S. Olympic Committee's award for Blind Male Athlete of the Year. Weights is Manning's first story winning three theatre awards, one being for best actor, and has written twelve other plays to date. Manning's poem "The Magic Wand" speaks to the intersectionality of disability and race.[2] Manning’s talent can be seen on shows such as Seinfeld, Dream On, and 8 Simple Rules, and commercials such as Nike and Bank of America advertisements. His poetry also appears in many magazines and anthologies like Staring Back and Grand Passion.


Manning’s play “Weights” was first performed in the year 2000. The play illustrates his life story from a young child in poverty to today, as a blind man writing poetry, plays, appearing in television and commercials, and the suffering and hard times he had encountered throughout his years.

Lynn Manning appeared in "Weights" at the Millfield Theatre in London in July 2008.

Personal life[edit]

Manning lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Shirley. He is a member of Screen Actor's Guild, Actors' Equity, and The Actor's Studio's West-coast Writers/Directors Unit. He also teaches children and adults who are visually impaired martial arts as a sensei of the judo program at the Braille Institute of Los Angeles.


  1. ^ a b [1], Sandahl, Carrie. "Manning, Lynn (1955-)." Encyclopedia of American Disability History. Ed. Susan Burch. New York: Facts on File, 2009. 590-591. Facts on File Library of American History. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 2 Apr. 2013.
  2. ^ [2], Adler, Ronald B., and Russell F. Proctor. "Chapter 3." Looking Out, Looking In. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 2013. 89. Print.

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