Multimedia: Tony and Emmy Award Winner André De Shields Receives Key to the City of Baltimore and is Honored by Arena Players and Central Scholarship
On Monday, August 19, 2019, Tony and Emmy Award winning actor André De Shields took the Amtrak Acela to Baltimore for a day of celebration.
Mr. De Shields, impeccably clad in a slim suit of Claret Red, black suede boots with harlequin tipped toes, a navy and red floral tie, and a navy and white polka dot patterned pocket square, visited with Mayor Jack Young in the Ceremonial Room of Baltimore City Hall. Mr. De Shields is best known for his roles in “The Wiz,” “Ain’t Misbehavin,’” “Play On” and “The Full Monty.”
In the Rotunda on the main floor of Baltimore City Hall, Mayor Young presented him with a Key to the City and a mayoral salute just two months after receiving his first Tony Award for “Best Featured Actor in a Musical” for his turn as Hermes in Anais Mitchell’s Hadestown.
In a career spanning fifty years, André De Shields has distinguished himself as an unparalleled actor, director and educator. Mr. De Shields is the triple crown winner of the 2019 Awards Season, having won the prestigious Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk and Tony Awards in the category of Best Actor in a Featured Role for Hadestown, which won as Best Musical. His other numerous accolades include the 2019 Actors’ Equity Foundation’s Richard Seff Award, honoring best performances by a veteran male and female actor, the 2019 Harlem Pride 50 Award, the 2018 Off Broadway Alliance Legend Award, the 2009 National Black Theatre Festival’s Living Legend Award, the 2007 Village Voice OBIE Award for Sustained Excellence of Performance, and eight AUDELCO Awards for Outstanding Performance, Direction and Choreography.
Mr. De Shields was honored by The Arena Players at a special luncheon at Arena Playhouse, located at 801 McCulloh St. in West Baltimore, the nation’s only continuously running black theater company founded by African-Americans.
Senator Larry Young, Chairman of Arena Players Board of Directors, introduced the program which featured remarks from Chapman Roberts and a performance of “Home” from “The Wiz” by Gabrielle Goodman.
Travis Winkey, Executive Director, One Step Further, presented Mr. De Shields with the 14 Carat Gold Achievement Award for outstanding achievement in the fields of acting, singing and directing. Arena Players’ Youth Theater Director Catherine Orange and Artistic Director Donald Owens presented him with the Theatre Ambassador Award. After talking about his path in the arts over a half a century, Mr. De Shields sang “Believe in Yourself,” accompanied by music director David Alan Bunn.
Mr. De Shields took a trip down memory lane as he drove by his Junior High School, Booker T. Washington; stopped on Division Street, the street where he spent his youth; and circled his high school, Baltimore City College, nicknamed “The Castle on the Hill.” A graduate of Baltimore City College, Mr. De Shields is a proud member of the class of 1964 and a member of the City College Hall of Fame.
The Central Scholarship celebration of André De Shields at Mount Lebanon Baptist Church featured performances by Baltimore Symphony musicians Rene Shapiro (Trumpet), Lior Willinger (Piano), and Morgan State University Choir Members Dezmond Covington (Tenor and Central Scholarship Recipient) and Taylor Jackson (Piano).
As Mr. De Shields stepped up to the lectern to receive the inaugural Central Scholarship Alumnus Award 2019, he pulled out his Tony Award and his Emmy Award as the results of what $300 gets you. This was a direct nod to receiving $300 from Central Scholarship, enabling him to attend college.
Mr. De Shields headed to Owings Mills to share the Tony Award and the Key to the City with his sister, Mary before traveling back to New York.
Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers, musicians and corporations. Lia has appeared in the filmsWolf, 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.