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Anna Deavere Smith Wins $300,000 Dorothy And Lillian Gish Prize For 2013

by Tambay A. Obenson
January 17, 2013 5:26 PM
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Said to be 1 of the largest prizes awarded in the field of the arts, and now in its 19th year, the 2013 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize, which comes with a cash prize of $300,000, has been awarded to actress Anna Deavere Smith

Established by actress Lillian Gish (star of dozens of films spanning 75 years, including D. W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation) the Prize is awarded to "a man or woman who has made an outstanding contribution to the beauty of the world and to mankind’s enjoyment and understanding of life."

Anna Deavere Smith is an African American actress, playwright, and professor, with a career that's seen her on stage, TV and film, since the early 1980s. 

Born in 1950, she's appeared in a wide range of often what we could call "socially conscious" stage productions, most recently her one-woman plays in which she plays a variety of characters, and has won awards for her performances.

On film and TV, Smith has appeared in several, including Philadelphia, The American President, and Rachel Getting Married to name 3; and on TV she had roles on The West Wing, The Practice, Nurse Jackie, and more.

She's also a professor at NYU as well as an author.

For the 2013 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize, she was chosen from a list of 30 finalists.

Darren Walker of the Ford Foundation and a member of the 2013 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize selection committee, lauded Ms Smith for "using her position as an artist and educator to address today’s major social issues."

Congrats to Anna Deavere Smith on the honor... and the $300,000 cash prize! Well-deserved!

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  • ALM | January 20, 2013 8:26 PMReply

    Congrats! I am excited to see what she will do with the prize in the way of upcoming projects.

  • twilight123 | January 18, 2013 2:45 AMReply

    Go ADS!! I have loved her work since her 1 woman shows in the early 90s. Great to see a true artist being acknowledged and respected for her work!

  • Vimbai | January 17, 2013 8:20 PMReply

    I love this woman she really has a career to be proud of and I think she is deserving of this award. I have heard her speak on a numerous occassions and intelligence and beauty shine though. Wish her and Viola Davis can have a movie together.

  • CareyCarey | January 17, 2013 7:55 PMReply

    This is very interesting. I thought I had basic general knowledge of most actresses (POC) but I knew nothing about this actress until I saw her on Nurse Jackie ( Yeah, I got turned out to Nurse Jackie by my daughter. Jackie is a mess but Anna has her back :-) Anyway, in fact, I didn't know she was a person of color until I googled her. There was an episode that turned my attention to her acting skills and I was like "who is this woman?". Little did I know she has been doing her thang -- in a big way -- for many many years.

    Congratulation Ms. Smith!

  • Tracy Twinkie Byrd | January 17, 2013 5:38 PMReply

    I soooo Love her!! Love her 1 woman show!! Her Work!! Her Work Ethic!! So deserving!! How Awesome!!

    Thank you for this information Tambay!!

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