Famed actress and playwright Anna Deavere Smith has won one of the most prestigious awards you can win in the arts, the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize.
The selection committee announced that Smith won the Gish Prize on Friday for pioneering a form of theatrical journalism that has never been seen before.
Darren Walker, of the Ford Foundation, who was on the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize selection committee, said, “Anna opens our eyes, ears and minds to some of the most challenging aspects of our lives, and in so doing helps give others the courage to do the same.”
The Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize, now in its 19th year, is awarded to leading artists in such fields as drama, music and dance, as well as literature. With this win Smith joins the ranks of other past winners that include Bob Dylan, Arthur Miller, Chinua Achebe and Robert Redford.
The prestigious award is named after silent film stars Dorothy and Lillian Gish, and comes with $300,000. Upon learning about her win Smith releases a statement that said, “I am deeply honored and can’t imagine a greater honor than having my name linked with the incomparable Dorothy and Lillian Gish.”
Smith has gained notoriety for her one-woman documentary-style works such as “Fires in the Mirror” about a 1991 riot in New York and “Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992,” about the 1992 Rodney King case. She recently tackled health care in “Let Me Down Easy.”
Smith has also appeared in Television series such as “Nurse Jackie” and “The West Wing” and in films including “The American President,” ”The Human Stain,” ”Life Support” and “Rachel Getting Married.” Among her other honors are a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant,” two Tony Award nominations, an Obie and a Drama Desk Award.