By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act January 17, 2013 at 5:26PM
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!