Today, the Actors’ Equity Foundation honored Katrina Lenk for her work in The Band’s Visit and Indecent as well as Will Pullen from Sweat with the 2017 Clarence Derwent Award.
“It is such an honor to be recognized for this award, especially in a year where there has been so much great work on and off Broadway,” said Will Pullen, who garnered this award for his portrayal of Jason in Lynn Nottage’s Sweat. “I owe so much to Lynn Nottage and Kate Whoriskey, as well as the cast. From the beginning of this process, we’ve done this as a team and all of them bring out the best of me on and off stage.”
Established in 1945 by Clarence Derwent, distinguished actor and president of Equity from 1946-1952, this award holds the distinction of being the oldest honor on Broadway. The award is presented to the most promising female and male performers on the New York metropolitan scene.
For Pullen, the 2017 Pulitzer Prize-winning Sweat marks his Broadway debut. “It has been such a crazy journey these last four years in New York,” he said. “I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to work with all of the amazing artists that I have. I’m so blessed to get to pursue what I love every day. It is amazing to get to be a part of the New York theatre community.”
“I’m honored and stunned to be receiving the Clarence Derwent award,” said Katrina Lenk. “I glanced at the list of past recipients – so many idols of mine (Dianne Wiest. Gene Wilder. Morgan Freeman) – let out low whistle and wonder how the hell am I on this list, too?”
Lenk has been acknowledged for her stunning work in Broadway’s Indecent, by Paula Vogel, and the Off-Broadway (coming soon to Broadway) production of The Band’s Visit. The performer has also been seen in Once, Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark and The Miracle Worker.
“I’ve been extremely fortunate thus far to be able to pursue a craft that scares the hell out of me, challenges me, teaches me, depresses me, makes me question everything and then sometimes, when all of the work and all of the coincidences line up just so, gives me so much joy I think I might perish from it,” she said. “This makes me sound insane, I realize. More please.”
In addition, the annual Actors’ Equity Foundation Award honored union members Barbara Barrie for her work in Broadway’s Significant Other and Anthony Chisholm for his work in this past season’s riveting Jitney.
“You know, I’ve been doing it for over 50 years,” said Barbara Barrie. “I have had wonderful times and educated two children with my husband, and I just consider myself very lucky. I’ve had a very interesting career – I’ve been all over the world. I lucked out; I think you can say that, I really lucked out.”
Barrie garnered the Foundation’s award for her portrayal of Helene Berman in Significant Other, a production’s she has travelled with since its Off-Broadway run at the Laura Pels Theatre in midtown New York City.
“Earning this award was unexpected and lovely,” she said. “It couldn’t be nicer.”
This prestigious award, established by Equity member Richard Seff in 2003, intends to acknowledge a veteran male and female character actor for the best performance in a supporting role in a Broadway or Off-Broadway production. Previous recipients include Tom Aldredge, Reed Birney, Hallie Foote, Jayne Houdyshell and, in 2016, Lois Smith and Bill Camp.
Barrie noted that she has led a fulfilling career, often seizing any opportunity to get on stage. In addition to an impressive list of television and film credits, including a recurring role on shows like “Suddenly Susan” and “Double Trouble,” her stage career has included notable productions and juicy roles – roles like Sarah in Company, Grace Manson in The Selling of the President and Mrs. Beckoff in the Torch Song Trilogy.
“This award feels like an honor from home because the Foundation and union – which I joined a long time ago – is home for me,” said Anthony Chisholm. “Out of the wellspring comes up the biggest supporter of the art that we create. Without the union and Foundation, I cannot even imagine what this kind of work would be like.”
Chisholm, who earned the award for his superb skill in Broadway’s Jitney, written by August Wilson, has appeared on Broadway in other Wilson productions such as Radio Golf, Gem of the Ocean and Two Trains Running.
“August Wilson: I’ m disciple of his work,” said Chisholm. “Above and beyond everything else, I would like to praise Wilson.”
In fact, Chisholm believes that we as a society have an obligation to propagate the playwright’s award-winning work. The actor believes, and he noted that he’s spoken to a few congressmen and women, about curriculum that stems from primary to higher education based on the work of Wilson to inspire, educate and stimulate the imagination of students – much like Wilson’s words did for Chisholm.
“I’m a storyteller, and if the writing is good, I can tell the story better,” he said. I believe the play should connect good writing with your imagination and then you come up with something.”
The judges’ panel for all awards includes: Joe Dziemianowicz, Daily News; Adam Feldman, Time Out New York; Susan Haskins, Theater Talk; Harry Haun, Playbill; and David Rosenberg, The Hour Newspapers.
Lia Chang is an award-winning filmmaker, a Best Actress nominee, a photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Jade Magazine and Playbill.com.
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