Inspired by the cultural phenomenon Verzuz, the Broadway Advocacy Coalition presented BROADWAY VS, hosted by Amber Iman, in celebration of the legendary careers of Tony, Grammy and Emmy Award winner André De Shields and Tony Award winner Lillias White as a livestreamed event from Shubert Studios at New World Stages on November 17.
BAC honored the legacies of these Broadway icons and presented them with the 2020 Broadway Advocacy Coalition Legacy Awards, while raising $34,183 to support the next generation of BIPOC leadership within the theatre industry through the Cody Renard Richard Scholarship Program, as well as BAC’s other initiatives to support and empower artist activists.
The evening featured song selections from their extensive careers on Broadway and on film including music from Ain’t Misbehavin’, The Wiz, Dreamgirls, Hercules, The Life, The Full Monty, Hadestown, Play On! , Once On This Island, The Jungle Book and more as well as conversations between the two iconic Broadway stars.
You can watch it below.
The upcoming event is sponsored in part by The Shubert Organization and produced by the Broadway Advocacy Coalition. Richard, Zhailon Levingston, Christian Dante White, and Robb Nanus serve as executive producers.
André De Shields is the triple-crown winner of the 2019 awards season, having won the Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk, and Tony Awards for best featured actor in a musical for his critically acclaimed performance as Hermes in Hadestown. The Actors’ Equity Foundation followed suit with the Richard Seff Award, honoring veteran stage actors’ best supporting performances of the year. Mr. De Shields recently received the 2020 Grammy Award for Musical Theater Album for Hadestown, an honorary Doctor of Arts Degree from Boston Conservatory at Berklee, the 2019 Project1Voice Lifetime Achievement Award, the 2019 SAGE Joyce Warshow Lifetime Achievement Award, The York Theatre Company’s 2019 Oscar Hammerstein Award for Lifetime Achievement in Musical Theatre, and was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame. He received the Key to the City of Baltimore from Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young in August, 2019. Prior to his Tony Award win, Mr. De Shields was best known for his show-stopping performances in four legendary Broadway productions: The Wiz, Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Emmy Award), Play On! (Tony Nomination), and The Full Monty (Tony Nomination). In a career spanning fifty one years, he has distinguished himself as an unparalleled actor, director, and educator, receiving in 2018 the 8th Annual Off Broadway Alliance Legend Award, and the 33rd Annual Bob Harrington Life Achievement Bistro Award. Among his other accolades are the 2009 National Black Theatre Festival’s Living Legend Award and the 2007 Village Voice Obie Award for Sustained Excellence of Performance. De Shields can currently be seen on Netflix as the Algebra Tutor in “John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch” and on The CW as Chubby in “Katy Keene.” De Shields is a proud member of AEA, SAG-AFTRA, and SDC. andredeshields.com
Lillias White has appeared on Broadway in starring or featured roles since 1981. These roles include Joice Heth in Barnum, Grizzabella in Cats, Effie in Dreamgirls, Mama Morton in Chicago, Jonesy in How To Succeed in Business... and Asaka in Once On This Island. She was nominated for a Tony Award for her portrayal of Funmilayo Anikulapo Kuti in Fela! and received The Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk and Tony Award for her featured role in The Life. Other memorable performances include Hennie in Romance in Hard Times at the Public (Obie Award), Crowns at Second Stage (Audelco Award), Texas in Paris at The York Theatre (Lucille Lortel nomination), and Ma Raineys Black Bottom at the Mark Taper Forum (N.A.A.C.P. AWARD). Concert work includes appearances at The Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, VItellos, The Purple Room, 54 BElow (Bistro Award) and the Green Room 42. On TV Miss White can be seen on “Law & Order,” “Law & Order SVU,” “Person of Interest,” and on Netflix as Fat Annie in The Get Down. Lillias is the voice of The Lead Muse in Disney’s animated film Hercules. Lillias White holds Honorary Doctorates from the City University of New York and University of West Virginia-Parkersburg.
The Cody Renard Richard Scholarship Program was established to honor, uplift and support the next generation of Black, Asian, Latinx, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) theatre-makers working behind the scenes. The program will provide financial support, as well as mentorship through online seminars focusing on community building, leadership and social justice from Richard and various leaders from the theatrical industry. More information can be found here: www.codyrenard.com/scholarship.
In the inaugural year, selected recipients will receive a $1,500 scholarship for the Spring 2021 semester. The scholarship program strives to encourage more Black, Asian, Latinx, Indigenous, and People of Color to pursue degrees in the theatrical management and artistic fields, such as Stage Management, Technical Theatre, Theatre Design, Playwriting, Directing, or Theatre Management. In partnership with the BAC, the program also hopes to build a community of scholars who will connect with each other through leadership seminars as they continue their various educational journeys.
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 films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman. She stars in and served as Executive Producer for the short independent films Hide and Seek, Balancing Act, Rom-Com Gone Wrong, Belongingness and When the World was Young. She is also the Executive Producer for The Cactus, The Language Lesson, The Writer and Cream and 2 Shugahs.
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