LPTW Lifetime Achievement Award winner Phylicia Rashad. (Photo: Ashley Garrett)
By Winnie McCroy
On Friday, March 16 at The Times Center, The League of Professional Theatre Women celebrated its annual awards ceremony, recognizing six women including a Lifetime Achievement Award for Phylicia Rashad, who said she was “honored and humbled by this recognition.”
The evening kicked off with host Florencia Lozano of “Narcos” and “One Life to Live” fame. Resplendent in a black and coral print dress, Lozano told The Broadway Blog that it was “a very propitious time to, as women, recognize each other and acknowledge each other’s achievements.”
“As much as times are really challenging and there are some horrific things going on, the upside is women are in the spotlight in a good way,” said Lozano. “We’re being asked our opinions, we’re speaking up and being heard in a way that, last year, just wasn’t the case. Everything is happening so fast, I’m excited to be amongst a community of women who have been supporting each other for such a long time.”
Marshall Jones III and Wayne Maugans—“a couple of the good guys”—presented the Lee Reynolds Award to “Unveiled” playwright Rohina Malik, a Muslim Londoner who said, “By telling our stories onstage, we are doing powerful work… to smash stereotypes.”
Highlighting backstage talent, director Shelley Butler presented the Ruth Morley Design Award to sound designer Cricket S. Myers, who said the LPTW was “an amazing group of women who do such amazing work, it’s really fantastic to be recognized by them and have a chance to speak for women designers.”
Director Emily Joy Weiner took home the Josephine Abady Award, presented by Karen Kandel, and director Adrienne Campbell-Holt received the Lucille Lortel Award, presented by Celia Keenan-Bolger.
“For so long we’ve been kept down, but finally women are able to speak loudly and clearly and hold their heads up at the same level as the men in our business,” said NY1 News anchor Roma Torre, who presented drama critic Linda Winer with the LPTW Special Award for her 40 years as Chief Theatre Critic at Newsday.
Finally, playwright Jocelyn Bioh, of “School Girls” fame, presented the award to Rashad, saying that she was “a huge fan; I’ve been following her literally since I was a child.”
“Typically in theater, women are the hardest working and the least celebrated. So that there is an entire league dedicated to uplifting women in… off-Broadway and commercial theatre, is really exciting,” said Bioh. “Particularly in this day and age we’re living in, women need to empower each other, own their own voices, and celebrate them.”
Rashad echoed this sentiment, but not before acknowledging the many women who helped her get where she is, from her mother, poet Vivian Ayers, to her teachers from elementary school to Howard University.
“This was the lesson I was being given: that human potential is to be recognized and realized,” said Rashad. “And that there is this auspicious group of women determined to see this through in theater by nurturing and supporting each other simply because it is our nature to do so is phenomenal. I thank you with all my heart. I thank you.”
For more information, visit www.theatrewomen.org
Winnie McCroy is a longtime arts and entertainment writer who lives in Brooklyn with her wife and her giant Rottweiler, Dixie Carter.