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American Theatre Wing to Honor James Earl Jones at Annual Gala – Monday 9/28/2015 at the Plaza Hotel

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J A M E S   E A R L   J O N E S



New York, NY (December 9, 2014) – The American Theatre Wing is pleased to announce that its annual Gala, to be held on Monday, September 28, 2015 at The Plaza Hotel (Fifth Avenue at Central Park South), will honor legendary actor James Earl Jones. Mr. Jones is a two-time Tony Award® winner, two-time Obie Award® winner and alumnus of the American Theatre Wing Professional School. CeCe Black, Anki Leeds, and Marva Smalls will serve as Gala Chairs.

“From his humble beginnings in Michigan through his extensive career in New York and Los Angeles, James Earl Jones has continually championed the American theatre with his memorable performances and advocacy on behalf of the Wing,” said Heather Hitchens, President of the American Theatre Wing. “He embodies the definition of a working actor, and we are delighted to have the opportunity to honor and pay tribute to all that he has done to elevate the art form.”


All proceeds from the evening will benefit the theatre education and artist development programs of the American Theatre Wing, which include SpringboardNYC, the Theatre Intern Network, the National Theatre Company Grants and the Jonathan Larson® Grants, and will also support free access for students, aspiring professionals, and the general public to programming on AmericanTheatreWing.org, including the long running show “Working in the Theatre.”


The evening includes cocktails, dinner and performances. Tickets will go on sale Spring 2015. For more information, please contact Jeremiah Hernandez by calling (212) 765-0606 or emailing gala@thewing.org.


Born in Mississippi and raised in Michigan, James Earl Jones moved to New York City after graduating from the University of Michigan and serving in the military. Supporting himself by working as a janitor, he struggled to make it as an actor and made his Broadway debut in 1957.


Renowned Broadway producer, Joseph Papp gave Jones one of his first major breakthroughs, casting him as Michael Williams in Shakespeare’s Henry V. A true visionary, Papp was credited with injecting a “dash of social conscience” into the performance by casting an African-American in the role. This marked the beginning of Jones’s long affiliation with the New York Shakespeare Festival, eventually counting the title roles of Othello, Macbeth, and King Lear among his many distinguished performances for the company.


In 1969, Jones won a Tony Award® for his breakthrough role as boxer Jack Johnson in the Broadway hit, The Great White Hope (which also garnered him an Oscar® nomination for the 1970 film adaptation). He won a second Tony Award® in 1987 for August Wilson's Fences, in which he played a former baseball player who finds it difficult to communicate with his son.


In the spring of 2005, James Earl Jones starred on Broadway a critically acclaimed revival of On Golden Pond for which he was nominated for a Tony Award®.  In 2006, he also starred as Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall in the production of Thurgood at the Westport County Playhouse and in spring of 2008 portrayed “Big Daddy” in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof on Broadway with cast members Terrence Howard, Anika Noni Rose and Phylicia Rashad, followed by a second run of Cat on Hot Tin Roof on stage in London with Adrian Lester, Sanaa Lathan, and again Phylicia Rashad. The production won an Olivier Award for “Best Revival” and Mr. Jones was nominated for an Olivier in the Best Actor category.  In 2011, Mr. Jones starred in the Broadway and London productions of Driving Miss Daisy with Vanessa Redgrave and Boyd Gaines and in 2012, starred in the Broadway production of The Best Man, for which he received a Tony® nomination.  In 2013 Mr. Jones enjoyed a six-month tour of Driving Miss Daisy in Australia starring Angela Lansbury and Boyd Gaines.  He is currently starring in You Can’t Take It With You.


In addition to the many awards he has received as an actor– two Tonys®, three Emmys®, a Golden Globe®, two Cable ACEs, two OBIEs, five Drama Desks, and a Grammy®– Jones has been honored with the National Medal of Arts in 1992 and the John F. Kennedy Center Honor in December 2002.  He also was honored by the Screen Actors Guild with the Lifetime Achievement Award in January of 2009.  In November 2011, The Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presented Mr. Jones with an Honorary Oscar® in recognition of his long and distinguished career.


The American Theatre Wing (William Ivey Long, Chairman, Board of Trustees; Heather Hitchens, President) is dedicated to advancing artistic excellence and nurturing theatre’s next generation: on stage, behind the scenes, and in the audience.


For nearly a century, the Wing has pursued this mission with programs that span the nation to invest in the growth and evolution of American Theatre. Traditionally, the Wing has encouraged members of the theatre community to share their off-stage time and talent directly with the theatre audience at large–whether it was singing for the troops in the Stage Door Canteen of the 1940's, or sharing their stories on a podcast today. 


As the founders of The Tony Awards®, the American Theatre Wing has developed the foremost national platform for the recognition of theatrical achievement on Broadway. Yet the Wing's reach extends beyond Broadway and beyond New York. The Wing develops the next generation of theatre professionals through the SpringboardNYC and Theatre Intern Group programs, incubates innovative theatre across the country through the National Theatre Company Grants, fosters the song of American theatre through the Jonathan Larson Grants, and illuminates the creative process through the “Working in the Theatre” program and media archive.


Visitors to americantheatrewing.org can get inspired and gain insight into the artistic process through the Wing’s extensive media collection, and learn more about its programming for students, aspiring and working professionals, and audiences.


Follow the Wing on Facebook.com/TheAmericanTheatreWing and Twitter.com/TheWing.


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