Director, actor, and choreographer Baayork Lee has been named the recipient of the 2017 Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award, which is presented annually to a member of the theatre community “who has made a substantial contribution of volunteered time and effort on behalf of one or more humanitarian, social service or charitable organizations.”
Lee is being honored for her commitment to future generations of artists through her work with the National Asian Artists Project and theatre education programs around the world.
“Baayork works tirelessly to break down cultural walls that often build up around what theatre goers consider ‘traditional’ musicals, and her dedication to fostering the next generation of performers and theatre professionals to do the same is exemplary. We are thrilled to honor her this year,” said Charlotte St. Martin, president of The Broadway League, and Heather Hitchens, president of the American Theatre Wing, in a joint statement.
Lee created the role of Connie and was the assistant choreographer of the 1976 Tony Award-winning Best Musical A Chorus Line; she has subsequently staged many productions of the musical across the globe.
She is the founder of National Asian Artists Project (NAAP), which is a community of artists, educators, administrators, community leaders, and professionals who work to showcase the work of Asian-American theatre artists through performance, educational programming, and community outreach. Through NAAP, Lee orchestrates her vision of educating, cultivating, and stimulating audiences and artists of Asian descent. The organization has produced productions of musical theatre staples like Oklahoma!; Carousel; Hello, Dolly!; Oliver!; and Honor with all Asian-American casts.
Her directing and choreography credits also include The King and I (national tour), Bombay Dreams (national tour), Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella (New York City Opera), Barnum (Australia), Carmen Jones (John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts), Porgy and Bess (European tour), Jesus Christ Superstar (European tour), Gypsy, and A New Brain.
She has been the recipient of numerous awards for her work, including the 2014 Paul Robeson Award from Actors Equity Association, the Asian Woman Warrior Award for Lifetime Achievement from Columbia College, Asian/Pacific American Heritage Association Achievement in Arts Award, and the Dynamic Achiever Award from OCA Westchester.
The American Theatre Wing’s 71st Annual Tony Awards, hosted by Kevin Spacey, will air live from Radio City Music Hall on CBS June 11 beginning at 8 PM ET. The Tony Awards are presented by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing. For more information, visit TonyAwards.com.