“It is extremely moving to me to receive this Award,” Viola added, “because Equity has been a part of my life for so many years and Patrick Quinn was a friend for even longer. It means a great deal to me, but even more importantly, it is a constant reminder that nothing happens without an extraordinary, cohesive, collaborative and committed team. The accomplishments of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS are not something I’ve done; they are something I’ve been fortunate to be a part of.”
Actor/writer/producer/administrator Viola has had a long relationship with Actors’ Equity Association since receiving his Equity card in 1978. He performed in dinner theatres and regional theatres until 1987 when he was hired by Equity for what was to be a temporary assignment. This employment continued, with Viola eventually being assigned to work with the Union’s 75th Anniversary Committee, then as a special projects coordinator and assistant to then-president Colleen Dewhurst. Soon after the Equity Fights AIDS Committee was founded, Viola became administrative director.
In 1992 Viola oversaw the merger of Equity Fights AIDS with Broadway Cares, and the organization has been a separate not-for-profit ever since, although distinctly and historically attached to Equity.
The Patrick Quinn Award was created in 2007 following the death of the former president of Actors’ Equity Association (2000-2006), who died on Sept. 24, 2006, and whose service to the Union dated from 1977. The Award, established in fulfillment of a bequest in Quinn's will, consists of a specially designed Lalique crystal Golden Retriever and a check.
Members of the selection committee, in addition to Casella, are Christopher Quinn, Quinn's nephew; Anne Fortuno, Quinn’s assistant at AEA; and friends and Councillors Judy Rice, Madeleine Fallon and Doug Carfrae.