The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center announced that two-time Tony winner Judith Light will receive the 17th Monte Cristo Award, which is bestowed on a prominent theatre artist whose lifetime of work has had an extraordinary impact on American theatre—in memory of its namesake.
An alumna of the O’Neill, Light first performed at the theater center’s 1977 National Playwrights Conference. A gala dinner will be held in her honor May 21 at 583 Park Avenue (New York) followed by a special program hosted by O’Neill Executive Director Preston Whiteway and an award presentation by director and O’Neill alumnus Thomas Kail.
In a statement, Whiteway said, “Beloved the world over, Judith Light brings artistry of the highest caliber to every role she takes on. Her gifts to bring the nuances of each character and their intrinsic humanity, are extraordinary—as is her lifelong commitment to the American theater. Twice awarded the Tony Award for her remarkable portrayals on stage, she began her professional career at the O’Neill with Wendy Wasserstein’s break out play, Uncommon Women and Others. Judith’s life work—her career on stage, screen and her advocacy for the LGBTQ community—truly make her an uncommon woman of the highest caliber, and we are delighted to recognize her with our 2017 Monte Cristo Award.”
Past recipients of the Monte Cristo Award include actors Meryl Streep, Michael Douglas, Nathan Lane, Christopher Plummer, James Earl Jones, Kevin Spacey, Jason Robards, Jr., Zoe Caldwell, Brian Dennehy, and Karl Malden, playwrights August Wilson, Wendy Wasserstein, Edward Albee, and Neil Simon, directors Harold Prince and George C. Wolfe, and Arthur and Barbara Gelb.
Light's TV career began with her two-time Emmy Award-winning turn on One Life to Live, followed by the comedy series Who's the Boss, and 15 movies of the week. She played Claire Meade in the Emmy-winning ABC series Ugly Betty and was Emmy-nominated for her performance. Light won back-to-back Tony Awards for Jon Robin Baitz's Other Desert Cities (2012) and Richard Greenberg's The Assembled Parties (2013). She is currently starring with Al Pacino in the play God Looked Away at the Pasadena Playhouse and can also be seen on the groundbreaking show Transparent, streaming now on Amazon Prime. The actor is also an advocate for HIV/AIDS and LGBTQ causes, supporting such organizations as Point Foundation and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. She is very active with the D.C.-based peace building organization Friends Committee on National Legislation.