Original A Chorus Line Star Is Recipient of 2014 Paul Robeson Citation Award

News   Original A Chorus Line Star Is Recipient of 2014 Paul Robeson Citation Award Asian-American actor, dancer, singer, choreographer, director and author Baayork Lee is the recipient of the 2014 Paul Robeson Citation Award presented by the Actors’ Equity Foundation.

Baayork Lee
Baayork Lee Photo by Aubrey Reuben

Lee will be presented with the award at the Eastern Regional Membership Meeting of Actors’ Equity Oct. 10 at 2 PM.

Created in 1971, the award "honors individuals or organizations that best exemplify and practice the principles to which Mr. Robeson devoted his life: dedication to the universal brotherhood of all humankind, commitment to the freedom of conscience and of expression, belief in the artist’s responsibility to society, respect for the dignity of the individual and concern for and service to all humans of any race or nationality," according to press notes.

Lee joins previous recipients Paul Robeson; Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee; Pete Seeger; Harry Belafonte; Studs Terkel; Lena Horne; Joe Papp; Maya Angelou; Bill Cosby; and Sidney Poitier, among others.

Lee, born in New York City’s Chinatown to an Indian mother and Chinese father, made her Broadway debut at the age of five as Princess Ying Yaowalak in the 1951 original production of The King and I. In 1958 she returned to Broadway in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Flower Drum Song. Other Broadway appearances were in Bravo Giovanni; Mr. President; Here’s Love; Golden Boy; A Joyful Noise; Henry, Sweet Henry; Promises, Promises; Seesaw; and Michael Bennett’s groundbreaking production of A Chorus Line, in which she originated the role of Connie. She worked with Bennett in several productions, and over the years went from being his dance partner to being his assistant. She would later supervise all major productions of A Chorus Line, choreographing 35 international productions as well as the 2006 Broadway revival. She is the co-author of the book, "On the Line: The Creation of A Chorus Line," published in 1990.

Lee also has choreographed and directed scores of national and international tours of, among others, The King and I; Bombay Dreams; Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella; Porgy and Bess; Jesus Christ Superstar; and Carmen Jones. In 2009, Lee founded (with Steven Eng and Nina Zoie) the National Asian Artists Project, which focuses on providing opportunities for the Asian American artistic community.

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The Actors’ Equity Foundation, a philanthropic and humanitarian non-profit organization, was created in 1962 to aid and assist the members of the acting profession and to promote the theatre arts. It is separate from Actors’ Equity Association and is funded by estate bequests and individual donations.

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