Writer, performer, hip hop theater artist, poetic activist, and community healer Aya de Leon lives in the Oakland Bay Area. She is the Director of June Jordan's Poetry for the People, teaching poetry, spoken word, and hip hop at UC Berkeley. Her work has received acclaim in the Village Voice, Washington Post, American Theatre Magazine, the Oakland Tribune, and San Francisco Chronicle. She was named best discovery in theater for 2004 by the SF Chronicle, and also in 2004, she received a Goldie award from the SF Bay Guardian in spoken word. In 2005 she was voted "Slamminest Poet" in the annual East Bay Express Best of the Bay.
In November 2006, Aya performed in Voices of a People’s History with Mos Def, Alice Walker, Luis Valdez, Howard Zinn, Anthony Arnove, and others. In April of 2005, Aya and Mos Def co-hosted a kickoff rally for Current TV, Al Gore’s new cable network. In 2004, she appeared on HBO's Def Poetry Jam, and was a finalist for Showtime's American Candidate Reality TV series. She has shared the stage with a wide range of performers, including hip hop and spoken word artists Mos Def, KRS ONE, The Roots, Saul Williams, De La Soul, The Coup, Mystic, Sarah Jones and Danny Hoch; literary artists Sonia Sanchez, Tillie Olsen, Walter Mosley and Alice Walker; musicians Tracy Chapman, Bonnie Raitt, Alanis Morrisette, Susana Baca, and activists Danny Glover, Barbara Lee, Julia Butterfly Hill, Al Gore, Woody Harrelson, Howard Zinn and Ram Dass, She is a co-author of the 2004 book How to Get Stupid White Men Out of Office.
Aya came very close to being elected in her fall 2004 show, "Aya de Leon is running for president." Her previous show, "Thieves in the Temple: The Reclaiming of Hip Hop," played to sold-out crowds in the Bay Area, and toured with the Hip Hop Theater All Stars.
Aya has taught spoken word and poetry at Stanford University, and has been a guest artist in residence at New York Theatre Workshop. She is a Cave Canem poetry fellow, and a slam poetry champion. In 2003 she presented her work at the Ford Foundation in New York and The Mark Taper Forum in LA.
In 1996 she married herself, and Aya's article about the experience was featured in Essence Magazine. For the past 10 years, Aya has been hosting annual alternative Valentine's Day celebrations in spoken word and music that focus on self-love, love of Spirit, love of community, and in recent years love of peace and democracy. In 2004 she began a new Valentine's tradition, the Beloved Self, a mass self-marriage ceremony and workshop extravaganza. In 2004 and 2005, she married over 60 people to themselves.
A graduate of Harvard College, Aya studied theater with Whoopi Goldberg, the San Francisco Mime Troupe, and the Jean Shelton School. She has an MFA in fiction from Antioch University in LA. She three novels-in-progress. The first is a literary novel about young Black and Latina women in college and emotional and spiritual transformation, and the second is a political thriller about espionage, environmental justice, and the domestic left. The third is a heist book that features a Puerto Rican female Robin Hood on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. She is also working on a a book on spirituality for the hip hop generation. She has released three spoken word CDs, and in 2007 she released the video of Thieves in the Temple.