NEW YORK CITY: Actors’ Equity Association and Actors’ Equity Foundation have announced Carmen Morgan and Futaba Shioda as the winners of the 2020 Paul Robeson Award, the only award administered jointly by the organizations. The award goes to individuals who exemplify the principles to which Robeson dedicated his life and includes an honorarium funded by the Foundation.
“Among the record-breaking number of incredible applications the committee read, the work of Carmen Morgan and Futaba Shioda resonated deeply with the committee,” said Allyson Tucker, chair of the Paul Robeson Award Committee, in a statement. “By embracing progressive and innovative approaches to reach people that push the boundaries of traditional definitions of humanitarian efforts, Carmen and Futaba each ensure that the spaces we will inhabit going forward will be more inclusive, purposeful, and compassionate. The Paul Robeson committee thanks Carmen Morgan and Futaba Shioba for sharing their heart’s work with us, and congratulates them on being the 2020 recipients of the Paul Robeson Award.”
This year marks the first time the award has been presented to two individuals, a decision, Tucker explained in a statement, that came after the committee this spring reaffirmed its commitment to the principles that guided Robeson and accordingly widened the award’s lens. Previous award winners include Maya Angelou, Harry Belafonte, James Earl Jones, Athol Fugard, Joseph Papp, and Robeson himself. The award goes to individuals who take theatre beyond the stage “to enact their commitment to the freedom of expression and conscience, their belief in the artist’s responsibility to society, and their dedication to the betterment of humankind.”
Carmen Morgan is a national activist leading conversations at the forefront of the field on equity, diversity, and inclusion issues. She is the founder and director of artEquity, a national organization that provides tools, resources, and training to support the intersections of art and activism. She has provided leadership development, organizational planning and coaching for staff, executives, and boards for over 100 nonprofit organizations. She is on faculty of Yale School of Drama, where she addresses issues of identity, equity, and inclusion in the arts.
Futaba Shioda invests his energy and care toward ensuring better qualities of life and arts accessibility for marginalized communities, namely advocating for gender-expansive folks, people of color, youth, and lower-income and poor communities. With an emphasis on non-exploitative, transformative art beyond representation, Futaba has acted in new works with the Kennedy Center, Barrington Stage Company, WP Theater, Soho Rep, Ogunquit Playhouse, and New Dramatists, among others, and recently made his screen debut in the series Sideways Smile. He has worked at the Gender & Family Project and Gender Conference NYC and has consulted on a variety of publications, including The New York Times, Penguin Random House, and developments of new musicals, in addition to creating his own resources. As an artist and a student of activism, Futaba strives for us all to be free of capitalist cycles of oppression.
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