Two-time Tony Award-winning choreographer Bill T. Jones (Spring Awakening, Fela!), Oscar, Tony, Emmy, and Grammy-winning actor Rita Moreno (West Side Story, The Ritz), and two-time Academy Award-nominated director Spike Lee (Malcolm X, Do the Right Thing, 4 Little Girls) were among five individuals honored at the Smithsonian’s biennial American Portrait Gala November 19 in Washington, D.C.
The National Portrait Gallery also honored political trailblazer Madeleine K. Albright, the first woman in U.S. history to serve as Secretary of State, and pioneering HIV/AIDS researcher Dr. David D. Ho, whose work with antiretroviral therapy helped turned the tide against the AIDS epidemic.
The honorees, whose portraits reside in the National Portrait Gallery, were presented with the Portrait of a Nation Prize for their lasting impact on history, development, and culture.
Jones’ portrait was made by provocative photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in 1985, while Lee’s portrait was shot by Jesse Frohman in 1990. Moreno’s portrait, shot by ADÁL in 1984, was featured in “Portraits of the Puerto Rican Experience,” a landmark collection of portraits and accompanying interviews documenting the achievements of Puerto Rican Americans. The publication was so powerful, that it was incorporated into the curriculum of the New York City school system.