"She is a modern-day griot," festival executive director Ayuko Babu told the Times. "Over the years she has had parts that give insight into who we are, from August Wilson's Gem of the Ocean to 'The Cosby Show.' She speaks to us and lets the world know who we are, on a high intellectual level and on an emotional level. Black folks across the world have a lot of respect for her." Rashad will receive the award Feb. 17 at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center. Previous honorees have included Louis Gossett Jr., Della Reese, Marla Gibbs and Glynn Turman. The Pan African Film Festival will run Feb. 16-23.
Rashad last appeared on Broadway as Big Mama in the revival of Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, a role she repeated in the West End last season. Her numerous Broadway credits also include August: Osage County, Cymbeline, Gem of the Ocean, Jelly's Last Jam, Into the Woods, Dreamgirls and The Wiz. On screen she has been seen in "For Colored Girls," "A Raisin in the Sun" and "The Cosby Show."