When accepting the position, which she referred to as a "prestigious honor," Lansbury said, "Would you believe 70 years ago I arrived in New York with my mother and twin brothers – evacuated from war-torn London? Because we did not have the means for me to continue my training as an actress, The American Theatre Wing of the British War Relief Effort arranged for me to have a scholarship to study at a dramatic school here in New York. The training I received eventually lead to a wonderful career.
"We talk about a person becoming a star overnight. It really doesn’t happen that way, you know. Young people hoping for a career in the theatre should think about learning everything they can about their craft, and how to apply those skills in the modern world of the theatre. The American Theatre Wing website offers hundreds of hours of free programs to students, aspiring professionals and audiences. I hope you young hopefuls out there will take advantage of these invaluable resources and maybe someday you will find yourself saying 'thank you' on stage at the Tonys.'"
The American Theatre Wing is a not-for-profit organization best known as the creator of the Antoinette Perry "Tony" Awards, which it presents annually with The Broadway League.
Lansbury is currently back on Broadway in the acclaimed revival of A Little Night Music.