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The Rosetta LeNoire Award

Rosetta LeNoire Award Goes to Willie Boston

Willie Boston, Equity's Equal Employment Opportunity Business Representative from 1991 to 2007, received three standing ovations when he returned to accept the Rosetta LeNoire Award at the Eastern Regional Membership Meeting on Friday, April 13, 2007.

When his name was first announced by Julia Breanetta Simpson, co-chair with Christine Toy Johnson of the Eastern EEO Committee, the membership stood for extended applause. Ms. Simpson noted that the Award recognizes outstanding contributions made to the "universality of the human spirit in the American Theatre." Mr. Boston, she said, "served the members of this Association with dignity, grace, and a cherished sense of humor," and over his 16 years had "been instrumental in implementing the many initiatives that have been developed in an effort to combat exclusion and increase opportunities for actors of color, women, seniors and actors with disabilities."

In addition, she said that Mr. Boston had served as "a constantly reliable representative" at both the Joint Equity/American Theatre League EEO Committee and the Diversity Coalition (made up of members of AEA, the League, the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, the Casting Society of America, Dramatists' Guild and the League of Off-Broadway Theatres). "Though you have recently left AEA to pursue another job opportunity, the dedicated work you have done will influence, and be felt by, our members for many years to come." At the conclusion of her remarks, and as she presented Mr. Boston with the Award, there was a second standing ovation.

In turn, Mr. Boston said that when he heard that he would receive the award at the April membership meeting, he thought it was a Friday, the13th joke. As the coordinator of the award presentation for many years, he said he "knew the caliber of past nominees and past recipients" and was delighted to be selected and happy to accept. The award, he said, is a "harbinger of what he attempted to accomplish and hopes to achieve in terms of diversity in all walks of life." He especially thanked Kitty Lunn, Maureen Moore, Andre De Shields, Christine Toy Johnson and Julia Breanetta Simpson upon whose shoulders he stood and with whom he worked over the years. Then came the third standing ovation.

Mr. Boston is currently Director of Affirmative Action/EEO at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio.


Award pages:

Arizona Theatre Service

Established in 1988, the award was named in honor of the actress Rosetta LeNoire, who was also the first recipient, not only because of her body of work in the theatre - and her work with the then titled Actors' Equity Association's Ethnic Minorities Committee - but also for founding the AMAS Repertory Theatre Company

Recipients of the Rosetta LeNoire Award are:

Year Recipient
1989 Rosetta LeNoire
1990 Mixed Blood Theatre, Minneapolis
1991 Milwaukee Repertory Theatre
1992 Joseph Papp & the New York Shakespeare Festival
1993 Crossroads Theatre, New Brunswick
1994 Wynn Handman and The American Place Theatre
1995 Philip Rose
1996 Ellen Stewart, artistic director, La MaMa E.T.C.
1997 Walter J. Turnbull, Boys Choir of Harlem
1998 Sacramento Light Opera Association
1999 Dennis Zacek and Marcelle McVay, Victory Gardens Theatre
2000 Wheelock Family Theatre, Boston MA
2001 Sharon Jensen, The Non-Traditional Casting Project / Doug Mann, The Chicago Theatre Company
2002 Eric Krebs
2003 North Shore Music Theatre/Deaf West Theatre
2004 Kitty Lunn and Infinity Dance Theatre
2005 Woodie King, Jr.
2006 Mia Katigbak And National Asian-American Theatre Company
2007 Willie Boston
2008 Detroit Repertory Theatre
2009 Bethune Theatredanse
2010 Jackie Taylor
2011 Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles
2012 Philadelphia's InterAct Theatre Company
2013 Christine Toy Johnson
2014 The San Francisco Mime Troupe
2015 Weston Playhouse Theatre Company
2016 E. Faye Butler
2017 Joseph Haj and the Guthrie Theater
Ten Thousand Things Theater

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