2016 – E. Faye Butler

E. Faye Butler accepting her award.

Upon studying E. Faye Butler’s Equity curriculum vitae it’s apparent that much of her union work has been rooted in finding and providing a voice to those in the minority. A current CRB non-Councilor and an Equity member since 1986, Butler has served on several committees, running the gauntlet of union activity – from LORT to Production to Dinner Theatre and Education and Outreach. She’s spent much of her time as a member of the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Committee as a well as the EEO subcommittees Women’s, Senior Performers and Performers with Disabilities.

It’s her passion and dedication to diversity and opportunity that has made her a stand out to colleagues and peers, and it’s that same tireless spirit that garnered her Equity’s 2016 Rosetta LeNoire Award.

“I have been so inspired by the generous spirit of Ms. Butler,” said Equity member and New Orleans Liaison Committee Chair John Bostic, who nominated Butler for the award. “She has worked harder than anyone else I know to make producers and audiences see the value of casting people based on talent and not on pre-defined types.”

The LeNoire Award, established in 1988, recognizes outstanding artistic contributions to the universality of the human experience in American theatre. The award is given to an individual, theatre or producing organization with an exemplary record in the hiring or promotion of minorities, female actors and actors with disabilities through multi-racial and/or non-traditional casting.

Butler has been described as an ardent advocate for the empowerment of all theatre artists, regardless of race, sexual orientation, gender, age or disability. She is a well-recognized, outspoken arts innovator within the Chicago theatrical landscape, who is credited by numerous artistic leaders in the region for increasing the diversity seen on stages across the city – even the entire Central Region.

Throughout her longstanding tenure with Equity, Butler has been a part of several conversations, leading to influential union resolutions and significant events promoting diversity and awareness within the industry. Her tenacity for inclusion is valued and her professionalism and talent is respected.

“I want to honor Rosetta LeNoire’s legacy by passing forward all of my knowledge, time, energy and support to young artists of all diversities,” Butler said. “That was her greatest gift: mentoring, supporting and encouraging artists of color to find their place in our industry as actors, writers, directors and producers – collaborators. It’s our duty to pass our gifts forward; to make our community stronger and always be inclusive. I thank Ms. LeNoire for paving the way for so many artists to follow.”