THE ACTORS FUND ANNOUNCES 2021 GALA HONOREES
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, PLEASE
THE ACTORS FUND
EMMY AWARD®-WINNING ICON
TONY AWARD®-WINNING PRODUCER
HOSTS OF “STARS IN THE HOUSE”
SETH RUDETSKY & JAMES WESLEY
AT THEIR VIRTUAL GALA
ON MONDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 2021 at 7:00 PM ET
New York, NY (August 19, 2021) – The Actors Fund, the national human services organization for everyone in performing arts and entertainment, will hold a Virtual Gala on Monday, November 1, 2021 at 7:00pm ET. The evening will celebrate The Actors Fund; Emmy Award-winning icon, Debbie Allen; Clean Tech Investor, Real Estate Developer and Philanthropist Niko Elmaleh; Tony, Grammy and Olivier Award-winning producer Stacey Mindich; and creators of the talk show “Stars in the House,” Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley, as they receive The Actors Fund’s Medal of Honor.
For photos of the honorees, click HERE.
The event begins at 7 pm ET and will include special tribute performances by artists to be announced. Guests will join together online to support The Actors Fund’s services that foster stability and resiliency and provide a safety net over the lifespan of members of the performing arts and entertainment industry. Since March 2020, The Actors Fund has distributed more than $22.4 million in direct financial assistance to more than 16,600 entertainment arts professionals.
“Throughout our 139-year history, The Actors Fund has been incredibly fortunate to have steadfast support for our work, “said Joe Benincasa, President and CEO of The Actors Fund. “And this year’s Medal of Honor recipients—Debbie, Niko, Stacey, Seth and James—continue this legacy in their commitment to not only The Actors Fund, but also to the entire performing arts and entertainment community. We can’t wait to celebrate their invaluable contributions to supporting a life in the arts.”
Tickets to the benefit begin at $1,500 and include access to a private link for the evening’s gala tributes and entertainment. To host a virtual table and for sponsorships, call 212.627.1000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. To purchase individual tickets and for event updates, visit actorsfund.org/Gala2021.
THE ACTORS FUND
The Actors Fund is a national human services organization that fosters stability and resiliency, and provides a safety net for performing arts and entertainment professionals over their lifespan. The Fund serves everyone in film, theater, television, music, opera, radio and dance with programs including social services and emergency financial assistance, health care and insurance counseling, senior and affordable housing, and secondary employment and training services. Visit actorsfund.org.
Debbie Allen is a 2021 43rd Kennedy Center Honoree, has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and is an award-winning producer, director, writer, actor and choreographer who has choreographed the Academy Awards a record ten times. She has directed and choreographed for legendary artists such as Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey, James Earl Jones, Phylicia Rashad, Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston, Gwen Verdon, Carmen de Lavallade, Diane Carroll, Lena Horne, Sammy Davis, Jr., Dolly Parton and Savion Glover. Ms. Allen received the Golden Globe for her role as Lydia Grant in the 1980s hit series Fame, the Drama Desk Award for her portrayal of Anita in West Side Story and is a three-time Emmy Award winner in Choreography for Fame and The Motown 25th. Awarded ten Image Awards as director, actress, choreographer and producer for Fame, A Different World, Motown 25th, The Academy Awards, The Debbie Allen Special and Amistad, she has also directed the best that network TV offers, including Scandal, How To Get Away With Murder, Jane The Virgin, Empire and Insecure. She currently serves as Executive Producing Director of Grey’s Anatomy, where she recurs as Dr. Catherine Fox. Her recent Shondaland produced documentary, Dance Dreams: Hot Chocolate Nutcracker on Netflix, tells a true story of what she does to enlighten, inspire and engage young people around the world through dance and theater arts. Ms. Allen, a BFA graduate of Howard University in Theater and Classical Greek Studies, holds four honorary Doctorate degrees. She is the daughter of poet Vivian Ayers and Dr. Andrew Allen, sister to Phylicia Rashad, Andrew “Tex” Allen and Hugh Allen, wife to NBA All-Star Norman Nixon, mother of Vivian and Thump and grandmother of Shiloh and Aviah.
Niko Elmaleh, Executive Vice President of World-Wide Holdings, is an active venture capital investor in clean tech, and is engaged in World Wide Group’s marketing and asset management. Mr. Elmaleh is also an active philanthropist. He sits on the board of The Actors Fund, as well as the board of New York Edge, which helps students in underinvested communities with academic after school programs. He also sits on the Photography Committee of the Whitney Museum. Mr. Elmaleh heads the Sono and Victor Elmaleh Foundation, which supports, among other charities, The Actors Fund, Career Transition For Dancers, and the Concert Artists Guild, as well as environmental causes. An environmentalist and patron of the arts, Mr. Elmaleh is involved with numerous other charitable organizations, including the Natural Resources Defense Council, Robin Hood, the Museum of Natural History, Rocky Mountain Institute, League of Conservation Voters, People For the American Way, and Media Matters, among others. He has a son, Alexander, who is, fittingly, an actor.
Stacey Mindich is a Tony, Grammy and Olivier Award-winning theatrical producer. As the lead producer of Dear Evan Hansen, Stacey nurtured this original musical through an eight-year development that broke every box office record, won six 2017 Tony Awards including Best Musical, and is now set to relaunch on Broadway, in London and on a national tour in the fall of 2021. A major motion picture adaptation will premiere in September 2021. Stacey Mindich Productions has produced more than 20 other plays and musicals, on and off Broadway. Believing deeply in the need to develop new musical works and nurture new voices, Stacey has also funded and enhanced productions for a variety of not-for-profit theaters, and is a founding board member of the Lilly Award Foundation, which celebrates, supports and advocates for women theater artists by promoting gender parity at all levels of production. She is also the co-chair of the board at New York City Center, which she has guided for the past eight years, particularly focusing on the beloved Encores series. Stacey is currently serving the Biden Administration and was appointed by President Joe Biden to the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships, which is a program for leadership and public service that provides young Americans experience working at the highest levels of the federal government. Prior to her career in theater, Stacey was a journalist and editor (for the New York Times, Newsday, Self, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Departures and Town & Country), and her essays have appeared in two collections of anthologies called Social Graces. Married to Eric Mindich, her favorite productions include her three sons, Russell, Danny and Charlie.
Seth Rudetsky’s first collaboration with The Actors Fund was in 1999 when he was asked to conduct the orchestra for a Fund-produced Broadway fundraiser for the Christopher Reeve Foundation. After that, he produced and conducted Dreamgirls in concert starring Heather Headley, Audra McDonald and Lillias White on September 24, 2001, raising almost $1 million for The Actors Fund and recorded on Nonesuch Records. He then did yearly Actors Fund concerts of Funny Girl, Chess, Hair (Ghostlight Records, Grammy nomination), The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and On The Twentieth Century. Other Actors Fund productions include starring opposite Sutton Foster in They’re Playing Our Song, hosting and playing piano for Nothing Like A Dame as well as his own Broadway 101 which also starred Norm Lewis, Laura Benanti, Andrea McArdle, Andréa Burns and more! Seth is the afternoon Broadway host on SiriusXM radio, the host of the talk show Seth Speaks and host of his podcast all about celebrities years in high school called Seth Rudetsky’s Back To School. On Broadway he’s played piano for around 15 musicals, was featured in The Ritz starring Rosie Perez and co-wrote and co-starred in the comedy Disaster!, (New York Times Critics Pick!) which was co-produced by his husband, James. He’s also written many an opening number for BC/EFA’s Easter Bonnet Competition, as well as hosting their Red Bucket Follies since 2010. As a writer, he was nominated for three Emmy awards for comedy writing on The Rosie O’Donnell Show and is the author of My Awesome Awful Popularity Plan and The Rise and Fall of a Theater Geek (published by Random House). Seth has four “Seth’s Big Fat Broadway Cruises” coming up with stars like Audra McDonald and Beth Leavel (Caribbean, Cross-Atlantic, Norwegian Fjords and Italy) and currently is performing Seth’s Big Broadway Review! at Asylum NYC.
James Wesley, in addition to acting and writing—including the critically acclaimed off-Broadway play Unbroken Circle, starring Eve Plumb and Tony nominees Anika Larsen and Jennifer Simard—has produced numerous benefit concerts and charity recordings with Seth. In 2015, after devastating cuts were imposed on You Gotta Believe!, the only foster care organization working exclusively with older children and youth in New York City, James and Seth produced Voices for the Voiceless on Broadway shining a spotlight on foster care in a unique and entertaining way, combining celebrity, music and everyday people sharing their stories. The concert raised $500,000 and is now a yearly event in NYC. Concert stars include Tina Fey, Jessie Mueller, Laurie Metcalf, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Tituss Burgess, Megan Hilty, Antwone Fisher, Charlene Tilton, Caroline Rhea, Darren Criss, Alec Mapa, and many more! Within days after the Pulse Nightclub shooting in 2016, James and Seth produced and recorded an all-star version of “What The World Needs Now Is Love,” to help the victims and their families. The single on Broadway Records features Carole King, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Wayne Brady, Sara Bareilles, Bernadette Peters, Gloria Estefan, Billy Porter and many more. The song charted on the Billboard Hot 100, reached #1 on iTunes, was on the Billboard Dance Charts for 11 weeks and raised over $100,000 for the GLBT Center of Orlando. Seth and James also organized the group to sing at the Democratic National Convention in 2016. Both Seth and James are the proud recipients of the National Leadership Award from the LGBTQ Task Force for their work on the recording. In response to concerns that marginalized people would suffer after 2016’s presidential election, James and Seth produced and hosted a monthly concert series called Concert for America all over the country, featuring brilliant, inspiring performances by stars including Rosie Perez, Piper Perabo, Caroline Rhea, Melissa Manchester, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Chita Rivera, Barry Manilow and so many more. Over the course of the series, entertainment’s biggest stars generously lent their voices to raise money for national organizations dedicated to protecting civil rights, women’s health and environmental protection. James and Seth began Stars in The House on March 16, 2020 to raise money for The Actors Fund and have raised more than $1,000,000. Stars In The House also has raised over $250,000 for other non-profits, including the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, WaterKeeper Alliance and The Trevor Project. For their work on Stars in the House, they have both received a Drama Desk Special Award, the Board of Directors MAC Award, the Founders Award for Resilience from The Cancer Support Community and a Gotham Icon Award from the Museum of the City of New York. You can watch all upcoming episodes (as well as past ones) on StarsInTheHouse.com or the Stars in the House YouTube Channel. In June 2020, James and Seth produced two songs with Marlo Thomas and Dan Sallick: “Free To Be…You And Me,” the first recording of the iconic song in almost 50 years, sung and produced by Sara Bareilles, and “Sisters and Brothers” sung by Broadway Inspirational Voices and produced by Michael McElroy and Joseph Joubert. Both songs were released by Warner Music with all monies raised going to NAACP Legal Defense Fund. In December 2020, Audra McDonald and director Schele Williams joined Seth, James, Michael McElroy and Joseph Joubert to produce a very special recording and music video of the beloved song “Georgia On My Mind” to help raise funds and awareness for Stacey Abrams’ Fair Fight organization’s work to ensure that every eligible Georgian had the resources and information they needed to vote in the January 5, 2021 runoff election. In January 2021, James and Seth collaborated again with Schele Williams on a special video celebrating the Inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, which aired during the January 20 Inauguration special. Over 35 stars, including Chita Rivera, Betty Buckley, Chandra Wilson, Jessie Mueller, Laura Benanti, Leslie Uggams, Peppermint, Vanessa Williams and Wayne Brady joined from the safety of their own homes to belt out two iconic Broadway songs: “Season of Love” from Rent and “Let The Sunshine In” from Hair.
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