Arthur French is best known for his work as both a Broadway Actor and producer. With a career spanning over fifty years, French has been in several Broadway productions such as The Trip to Bountiful, Dividing the Estate, Mule Bone, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Design for Living, You Can’t Take it With You, Death of a Salesman, The Iceman Cometh, The River Niger, Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death and All God’s Chillun Got Wings.
Born and raised in New York, French began his career in community theater. It wasn’t long before he was also performing in street plays in Harlem for Amiri Baraka’s Black Arts Repertory Theater. In 1967 French was one of the founding members of the Negro Ensemble Company. His career however, was not limited to theater. He also has appeared in such notable films as “Malcolm X”, “Crooklyn”, “Car Wash”, “Round Midnight”and “Kinsey”, and on television programs such as “Law and Order”.
BRAVO to the great Arthur French who will receive the Actors’ Equity Foundation 2015 Paul Robeson Citation Award http://t.co/UKjFOYJhi3
French joins other notable recipients of the award such as Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, Maya Angelou and Sidney Poitier, among others. According to the website,
Created in 1971, the award honors individuals or organizations that best exemplify and practice the principles to which Mr. Robeson devoted his life: dedication to the universal brotherhood of all humankind, commitment to the freedom of conscience and of expression, belief in the artist’s responsibility to society, respect for the dignity of the individual and concern for and service to all humans of any race or nationality.
Actors’ Equity Association is the U.S. labor union that represents more than 50,000 Actors and Stage Managers. Equity seeks to foster the art of live theatre as an essential component of society and advances the careers of its members by negotiating wages, working conditions and providing a wide range of benefits, including health and pension plans. Actor’s Equity Association has committed to “…present annual citations to the individual or organization that, during the preceding year or years, best exemplified and practiced the principles and ideals of the great humanitarian, Paul Robeson.”
French will be presented with the award at 2:00 pm on Friday, October 16, 2015 at the Eastern Regional Membership Meeting of Actors’ Equity Association. We are thrilled to express our appreciation to Arthur French for his contribution to Black Broadway and our congratulations on receiving this well deserved award!
Audra McDonald and Will Swenson To Host The 2017 Drama League Awards
Broadway couple Audra McDonald and Will Swenson will host the 83rd Annual Drama League Awards. What a perfect selection, it’s almost like we came up with it!
All jokes aside, we’re in the middle of awards season and anticipation runs high as we celebrate the work of our community all the way up until Tonys night on June 11.
In the weeks up to the Tonys, it can be hard to differentiate one award from the other. The Drama League Awards are unique in that they hinge on the Distinguished Performance Award. In a category of over 50 performers, this award goes to one artist a year, and can only be won once in an artist’s lifetime.
The Drama League previously announced its 2017 Special Recognition Honorees: the legendary Bette Midler will receive the Distinguished Achievement in Musical Theater Award; Bill Berloni will receive the Unique Contribution to the Theater Award for his work in animal training for Broadway, and Michael Greif will receive the Founders Award for Excellence in Directing.
The 83rd Annual Drama League Awards Ceremony and Luncheon includes a nominees cocktail reception, luncheon, and awards presentation and will be held at the Marriott Marquis Times Square in the Broadway Ballroom (1535 Broadway) on Friday, May 19, 2017, beginning at 11:30 am. Tony winners Patina Miller and Bebe Neuwirth announced nominations for the 83rd Annual Drama League Awards on April 19th at New York’s famed Sardi’s.
For a complete list of 2017 nominees click HERE.
It’s That Time! The 71st Annual Tony Awards Nominations
At last! Tony Awards season has arrived, and Broadway Black is thrilled to congratulate several leads and new legends for their nominations!
Tony Award-winning actress Jane Krakowski and past Tony Award nominee Christopher Jackson announced nominations in 24 competitive categories for the American Theatre Wing’s 71st Annual Antoinette Perry “Tony” Awards® at the Tony Award Nominations ceremony, sponsored by IBM, held at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center on Tuesday morning.
The eccentric new musical Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 leads with a total of 12 nominations including Best Musical. August Wilson’s Jitney received six nominations, including Best Revival of a Play, and Sweat received three, including Best Play.
Broadway newcomer Denée Benton of Great Comet received a nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical, competing alongside legends Patti LuPone and Bette Midler, and Miss Saigon’s Eva Noblezada. Corey Hawkins scored his first Tony nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play for Six Degrees of Separation.
Featured actors John Douglas Thompson and Condola Rashad both received nominations for their performances in their respective plays, Jitney and A Doll’s House, Part 2. Sweat’s Michelle Wilson will also compete in the Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play category.
For his work in Jitney, Tony winner and August Wilson-connoisseur Ruben Santiago-Hudson received a nomination for Best Direction of a Play, along with costume designer Toni-Leslie James, who also takes a nomination for her work in Jitney. Having won two Pulitzers for Drama in her career, Lynn Nottage receives her first Tony nomination for writing the topical new play Sweat.
Prolific stage and film actor James Earl Jones will receive the Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre, having had a career spanning more than 60 years.
For a full list of nominations, visit TONY.
Congratulations to all of the 2017 nominees!
83rd Annual Drama League Award Nominees Announced
Congratulations are in order for some of our Broadway Black favorites! Denée Benton, Condola Rashad, and Corey Hawkins are among those honored with nominations from the oldest theatrical honor in America.
In the midst of Awards season, it can be hard to differentiate one award from the other. The Drama League Awards are unique in that they hinge on the Distinguished Performance Award. In a category of over 50 performers, this award goes to one artist a year, and can only be won once in an artist’s lifetime.
Nominations for the 83rd Annual Drama League Awards were announced April 19th by Patina Miller and Bebe Neuwirth at New York’s famed Sardi’s. The ceremony will be held May 19 at 11:30 am, and hosted by Audra McDonald and Will Swenson at the Marriott Marquis in New York City. Special honorees include Bill Berlin, Michael Greif, and Bette Midler, who will be honored with the Distinguished Achievement in Musical Theatre Award. Because of this, Middler was considered ineligible for the Distinguished Performance Award category for her work in Hello, Dolly!
A full list of nominees can be found below:
Outstanding Production of a Broadway or Off-Broadway Play-
A Doll’s House, Part 2
If I Forget
The Play That Goes Wrong
Tell Hector I Miss Him
Outstanding Revival of a Broadway or Off-Broadway Play-
A Doll’s House/The Father
The Beauty Queen of Leenane
The Little Foxes
Master Harold… and the boys
Six Degrees of Separation
Troilus and Cressida
Outstanding Production of a Broadway or Off-Broadway Musical-
Outstanding Revival of a Broadway or Off-Broadway Musical-
Nominees for The Distinguished Performance Award-
Denée Benton, Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812
Reed Birney, Man From Nebraska
Cate Blanchett, The Present
Ato Blankson-Wood, The Total Bent
Christian Borle, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; Falsettos
Leon Addison Brown, Master Harold and the Boys
Kate Burton, Present Laughter
Daniel Craig, Othello
Johanna Day, Sweat
Marcia DeBonis, Small Mouth Sounds
Danny DeVito, The Price
Jennifer Ehle, Oslo
Carson Elrod, The Liar
Michael Emerson, Wakey Wakey
Sally Field, The Glass Menagerie
Sutton Foster, Sweet Charity
Gideon Glick, Significant Other
Josh Groban, Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812
Harriet Harris, The Roads To Home
Corey Hawkins, Six Degrees of Separation
Allison Janney, Six Degrees of Separation
Rachel Bay Jones, Dear Evan Hansen
Sarah Jones, Sell/Buy/Date
Andy Karl, Groundhog Day
Kevin Kline, Present Laughter
John Leguizamo, Latin History for Morons
Kecia Lewis, Marie and Rosetta
Judith Light, All The Ways To Say I Love You
Laura Linney, The Little Foxes
Jefferson Mays, Oslo
Simon McBurney, The Encounter
Laurie Metcalf, A Doll’s House, Part 2
Joe Morton, Turn Me Loose
Cynthia Nixon, The Little Foxes
Eva Noblezada, Miss Saigon
Caroline O’Connor, Anastasia
Laura Osnes, Bandstand
Aisling O’Sullivan, The Beauty Queen of Leenane
David Hyde Pierce, A Life; Hello, Dolly!
Ben Platt, Dear Evan Hansen
Daniel Radcliffe, Privacy
Amy Ryan, Love, Love, Love
Nora Schell, Spamilton
Jeremy Secomb, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Anna Deveare Smith, Notes From The Field
John Douglas Thompson, Jitney; A Doll’s House/The Father
Kate Walsh, If I Forget
Michelle Wilson, Sweat
Could The Color Purple Be On Its Way to an Emmy Award?
Just one month after scoring a Grammy Award for “Best Musical Theater Album,” The Color Purple, which starred Tony and Grammy Award winner Cynthia Erivo, may get an Emmy as well. Announced on March 22nd, one of their live television performances received a Daytime Emmy Award nomination for “Outstanding On-Camera Musical Performance in a Daytime Program.”
Last year, as part of the NBC Citi Concert Series on Today Show’s Best of Broadway Week, the cast of The Color Purple made a guest appearance to sing the title number of the musical, led by Erivo. In a performance that left us breathless and astonished, this would appropriately be the same morning the cast learned they received four Tony nominations, including “Best Revival of a Musical.”
Based on the novel by Alice Walker, The Color Purple first appeared on Broadway in 2005, earning 11 Tony nominations. The recent scaled down version, directed by John Doyle, opened in December of 2015, and ran for 450 performances before closing on January 8th, 2017.
A North American tour launches in the fall later this year. Check The Color Purple for more information.
Now we can’t help but wish for a musical film adaptation, with Erivo reprising Celie. We’ve no doubt she’d easily snatch up her EGOT-status. Regardless, congratulations are in order for the cast of The Color Purple!
Edit: While this is the first time a Broadway production has been nominated in these categories, Erivo and the cast will not actually be eligible to receive the award. Instead it will go to the program that hosted the performance.
Broadway Black Stars Shine In 89th Academy Award Nominations
There’s always a silver lining, right? After this whirlwind of the past few days with the Inauguration of an unqualified reality star to lead our country, millions of women marching around the world for equal rights, white people making up a new name for lying (“alternative facts”), the Academy Award nominations brightened things up a bit.
Announced last Tuesday, we were so pleased to see many of our Broadway Black favorites make the list this year, some even making history.
Moonlight managed to rack up a total of eight nominations including: Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay (Tarell Alvin McCraney & Barry Jenkins), Best Director (Barry Jenkins), Best Supporting Actor (Mahershala Ali), Best Supporting Actress (Naomie Harris), Best Cinematography, Best Original Score, and Best Film Editing.
The acclaimed film adaptation of Fences garnered a Best Picture nomination along with Best Actor in a Leading Role (Denzel Washington), Best Supporting Actress (Viola Davis), Best Adapted Screenplay (August Wilson).
Hidden Figures scored three nominations for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actress (Octavia Spencer). Someone must have forgotten to include Taraji P. Henson’s name on the ballots.
Ruth Negga received a nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her nuanced and remarkable performance in Loving.
Another breakthrough for African-American filmmakers was the documentary category with four of the five nominations going to directors of African descent (13th, I Am Not Your Negro, Life, Animated & OJ Made In America).
While Hollywood will quickly pat themselves on the back and try to say this isn’t a repeat of #OscarsSoWhite, the work is far from over. So, you nominated seven actors of color (including Lion’s Dev Patel) out of a possible 20 nominees? Good for you, Hollywood. You go, Glenn Coco.
This so-called “drought,” as Deadline wrote, is far from over. There shouldn’t be any reason Halle Berry is still the last — and only — Black actress to have won in the lead actress category. Viola Davis shouldn’t have to campaign for Best Supporting Actress to increase her odds of winning when Best Actress should definitely be hers — she has a Tony for Best Leading Actress for the same role.
Image: David Lee/Paramount Pictures/REX/Shutterstock
Barry Jenkins is only the fourth Black director to get the esteemed Best Director nomination in the category’s history and, for the first time ever, three films with majority Black casts have been nominated for Best Picture.
This also marks the first time three Black writers received nominations for Adapted Screenplay, including the late August Wilson, in the same year. His posthumous nomination is enough to bring tears to my eyes.
It’s 2017. And while Hollywood wants to say “the drought is over” when we’re just breaking the mold in 2017, we still have such a long way to go.
After the backlash of only 20 white actors in performance categories two years in a row, the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences took action to help increase the diversity of its governing board and voting members.
Watch The Oscars LIVE! to see Viola Davis earn her O, snatch a wig or two, and make her way to EGOT status, Sunday, February 26, 7 PM EST/4 PM PST, only on ABC.
Moonlight, Fences & More Snag Golden Globe Nominations
Awards season has arrived, and several Black-led films and television shows have picked up nominations for the upcoming 2017 Golden Globes.
Moonlight, which has scored multiple wins and nominations this season, such as the Critics’ Choice Awards and AFI Awards, earned six nominations, including Best Motion Picture Drama. The film, based on a play by Tarell Alvin McCraney, tells the coming-of-age story of a gay Black man growing up in Miami.
The film also earned nominations for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture (Mahershala Ali), Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture (Naomie Harris), Best Director of a Motion Picture, Best Original Screenplay (Barry Jenkins), and Best Original Score for a Motion Picture (Nicholas Britell).
The anticipated film adaptation of August Wilson’s play Fences earned two nominations for its leads, Denzel Washington, who also directs, and Viola Davis.
Scandal’s Kerry Washington received a Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television nomination for her performance as Anita Hill in HBO’s Confirmation.
Ruth Negga, who earned an Olivier Award nomination in 2003, received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture for Drama for her film Loving.
The People v. O.J. Simpson, in addition to Best Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television, picked up several nominations, including Best Performance by an Actor in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television for Tony winner Courtney B. Vance for his turn as lead attorney for Simpson, Johnnie Cochran. His co-star Sterling K. Brown also received a Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role nomination.
Thandie Newton earned a nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television for Westworld.
Broadway Black would also like to congratulate other faves who’ve scored nominations including Issa Rae (Insecure), Pharrell Williams (Hidden Figures), Lin-Manuel Miranda (Moana), Benj Pasek, Justin Paul (La La Land), Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures), and the numerous other talented artists in their respective categories.
About Broadway Black:
BroadwayBlack.com is dedicated to highlighting the achievements and successes of African-American theatre artists on and off the Broadway stage. For so long, our voices have been skimmed over inside and outside of The Great White Way. However, we know we have experiences to share that are essential. BroadwayBlack.com serves as a collective of things we all care for. It is a platform for all things Black theatre. Created for the child in all of us who looked up to the stage searching for the faces that looked like ours. Celebrating the dedication of those who hand over their life to give all they have to the stage, shining light on those that continue our journey, & paying tribute to those who blazed the way for our story to be told, seen, and heard on The Great Way.
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