is a story-teller originally from California, now splitting his time between New York and LA.
In 2019, with Sean Daniels’ he co-directed the world premiere of Daniels’ adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s “lost novel” The Haunted Life at Merrimack Rep. The production marked the first time the Kerouac Estate had ever sanctioned an official theatrical adaptation of Kerouac’s work and solidified the artistic partnership between peña and Daniels. Shortly after, Daniels was appointed Artistic Director of Arizona Theatre Company, where he invited peña to become an Artistic Associate, as his first hire.
As a playwright, the Clarence Brown Theatre commissioned and produced the world premiere of his play The Strangers. In New York, the Flea Theatre produced the world premiere of his play a cautionary tail. Most recently, he collaborated with actress Solea Pfeiffer on her solo show You Are Here, which was commissioned by Audible, and played to sold out acclaim at the Minetta Lane Theatre off-broadway and will soon be available on Audible. For the next two years, Profile Theatre in Portland, Oregon, will produce a season of his work: the second production of how to make an American Son, the world premiere of his Goodman Theatre commissioned play awe/struck, and the world premiere of a new Profile Theatre commission.
His work has been developed by Playwrights Horizons, the Goodman Theater, Public Theater, Two River Theater, INTAR, Ontological Hysteric Incubator, Playwrights Realm, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, Old Vic, Orchard Project, Naked Angels, and New York Theatre Workshop, among many others. A two-time Sundance Institute Theater Fellow, he has also held fellowships with the Lark Play Development Center, was a recipient of the Latino Playwrights Award from the Kennedy Center, an Emerging Artist Fellow at New York Theatre Workshop, Playwrights Realm Writing Fellow, and was a part of the US/UK Exchange (Old Vic New Voices). A proud member of New Dramatists, he was named one of “The 1st Annual Future Broadway Power List” by Backstage, and has been published by Methuen, No Passport Press and Smith and Krauss. He has an extensive relationship with the 24 Hour plays where he has written for their plays on Broadway and Musical Benefits, and written viral monologues for Hugh Dancy, Bonnie Milligan, Cory Michael Smith, John Gallagher Jr., Libby Winters, Evan Jonigkeit, and many more.
In television, he was a writer on the Golden Globe nominated debut season of the CW show Jane the Virgin, the critically acclaimed HBO show Insecure (in which he also appeared as the character Gary), as well as the Starz show Sweetbitter, Motherland: Fort Salem on Freeform, and the ABC / Hulu series Promised Land. He produced the BET+ holiday film A Jenkins Family Christmas and co-wrote this year’s upcoming BET+ holiday film The Cookoff. He is currently a Supervising Producer on an upcoming Disney+ show and developing original series for HBO (with filmmaker Crystal Moselle and artist Derrick B. Harden), and STX (with Omar Sharif Jr.). He received his B.A. from U.C. Santa Barbara and his M.F.A. from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.