Chicago's Black Ensemble Theater Founder Will Receive Special Jeff Award

News   Chicago's Black Ensemble Theater Founder Will Receive Special Jeff Award
Jackie Taylor, executive artistic director of Chicago's 31-year-old Black Ensemble Theater (BET), will receive a Special Award at the 39th Annual Jeff Awards Ceremony Oct. 29.

Taylor founded BET in 1976 with a $1,200 loan and free legal work from Lawyers for the Creative Arts and has built it into a $1.6 million-dollar cultural organization earning national recognition, according to an Oct. 1 announcement from the Jeff committee.

Taylor has also been involved in writing, directing, choreographing or managing over 100 musicals and plays. She previously received a Jeff Award for Director of a Revue for her 1996 production of Great Women in Gospel, which represents one of BET's 28 Jeff nominations over the years.

BET recently embarked on a new capital campaign, and will break ground in 2008 at its new facility at 4440 N. Clark Street.

According to the Jeff Awards committee, "Ms. Taylor's works celebrate the contributions of African-Americans in a highly educational and uplifting manner. Despite her busy schedule, she always volunteers for the arts, is president of the African American Arts Alliance of Chicago, and past vice president of the Chicago League of Theatres."

She was raised in the Cabrini Green Housing Projects, received her BA from Loyola University under the tutoring of Dennis Zacek, and attended graduate school at Roosevelt University. She has taught in the Chicago Public Schools for almost 30 years. Her professional career began with Free Street Theater in 1973 and she worked with Goodman Theatre and Victory Gardens for many years. Her film career began with "Cooley High" in 1976, and she has worked with such stars as Sidney Poitier, Vanessa Williams, Bill Duke and Laurence Fishburne. Her most recent film was "Barber Shop II" with Ice Cube. She has two daughters, Tynea and Lexus. The 39th Annual Jeff Awards ceremony will be held Oct. 29 at The North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie, 9501 Skokie Boulevard.

For more information visit the Jeff Awards committee's website at

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