Tony Winner Phylicia Rashad Named 2017 Women in the Arts Honoree at Steppenwolf Theatre

Tony Winner Phylicia Rashad Named 2017 Women in the Arts Honoree at Steppenwolf TheatreSteppenwolf Theatre Company proudly announces stage director, singer and Tony Award-winning actress Phylicia Rashad as the 2017 honoree at the annual Steppenwolf Salutes Women in the Arts fundraising luncheon on Monday, February 6, 2017 at 12noon at Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, 221 N Columbus Dr. Ms. Rashad joins Steppenwolf Artistic Director Anna D. Shapiro for a riveting conversation about her multifaceted career and her role as a leader in the field.

Phylicia Rashad is a close collaborator with the Steppenwolf ensemble, having starred as Violet Weston in the Shapiro-helmed 2009 Broadway production of August: Osage County and more recently, in ensemble member Tarell Alvin McCraney's Head of Passes alongside ensemble member Alana Arenas and directed by ensemble member Tina Landau at The Public Theater. Her powerful work on stage has garnered much acclaim. Ms. Rashad was the first African American actor to win the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play, which she received for her performance of Lena Younger in a revival of A Raisin in the Sun in 2004.

Best known to television audiences for her groundbreaking role of attorney Clair Huxtable on The Cosby Show, for which she received two N.A.A.C.P. Image Awards and two Emmy nominations, Phylicia Rashad returns to television this season with a featured guest-starring role in Empire. Recent film credits include Tyler Perry's For Colored Girls and the 2015 Rocky spin-off and sequel Creed.

The eighth annual Women in the Arts luncheon brings together nearly 400 leaders from Chicago's business and civic communities to honor Ms. Rashad for her indelible contribution to the field. The event raises funds for Steppenwolf's professional development programs, including Steppenwolf for Young Adults, the nationally recognized education program, the School at Steppenwolf, as well as the Professional Leadership Programs, providing apprenticeships, fellowships and internships for the next generation of arts managers and producers.

Table sponsorships, starting at $5,000 for Women in the Arts are currently available. Individual tickets, start at $200. To purchase tickets or learn about table sponsorship opportunities, contact Steppenwolf's Special Events Department at 312-654-5632 or specialevents@steppenwolf.org.

Lead sponsor of the 2017 Women in the Arts luncheon is BMO Harris Bank. United Airlines is the Official and Exclusive Airline Partner of Steppenwolf Theatre Company.

Previous honorees for Steppenwolf Salutes Women in the Arts include ensemble members Joan Allen, Laurie Metcalf and Martha Plimpton, along with Claire Danes, Juliette Lewis, Julianna Margulies, Margo Martindale, Julianne Nicholson and Mary-Louise Parker.

About the Honoree

Whether she is bringing laughter to millions of television viewers around the world, Moving Theatre-goers to tears, thrilling movie fans, offering new insights to students by teaching Master Classes at renowned learning institutions that include Howard University, Julliard, and Carnegie Mellon, serving on Boards of prestigious organizations, or breaking new ground as a director, Phylicia Rashad is one of the entertainment world's most extraordinary performing artists.

A native of Houston, Texas, Rashad graduated Magna Cum Laude from Howard University. A versatile performer, Rashad became a household name when she portrayed "Claire Huxtable" on The Cosby Show, a character whose appeal has earned her numerous honors and awards for over two decades. She teamed up with Bill Cosby again on television as "Ruth Lucas" on Cosby. Currently, she has a recurring role as "Diana Dubois'" on the popular Fox TV series Empire and is slated to appear in the upcoming Amazon series,Jean Claude Van Johnson.

While television was a catalyst in the rise of Rashad's career, she has also been a force on the stage, appearing both on and off-Broadway, often in projects that showcase her musical talent such as Jelly's Last Jam, Into The Woods, Dreamgirls and The Wiz.

Inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame in 2016, Ms. Rashad received the 2016 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Leading Actress in a Play for her performance as "Shelah" in Tarell Alvin McCraney's Head of Passes at The Public Theater. She has performed on Broadway as "Violet Weston" in August Osage County, "Big Mama" in Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (a role that she reprised on the London Stage), "Aunt Ester" in August Wilson's Gem Of The Ocean, (Tony Award nomination) and "Queen Britannia" in Shakespeare's Cymbeline at Lincoln Center. Ms. Rashad received both the Drama Desk and the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her riveting performance as "Lena Younger" in the Broadway revival of Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin In The Sun. She appeared in Ryan Coogler's Creed, Tyler Perry's Good Deeds and starred in Perry's highly acclaimed film version of Ntozake Shange's For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Enuf.

Ms. Rashad made her directorial debut at the Seattle Repertory Theater with August Wilson's Gem of the Ocean. Critics gave her first foray into the directing world rave reviews, saying "Rashad steers Seattle Rep's show with great sensitivity and understanding - for both the text and actors."

Of her work at the helm of The Ebony Repertory Theatre's production of A Raisin in the Sun in the Spring of 2011, the Los Angeles Times hailed Rashad's California directing debut by stating that she "...nails the play's rich humor in a solidly rendered production." She remounted the production at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Los Angeles and at the Westport County Playhouse in Westport, Connecticut. Ms. Rashad has also directed August Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom and Joe Turner's Come and Gone at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles (2014 NAACP Theatre Award for Best Director) and Fences at the Longwharf Theatre and the McCarter Theatre. She returned to the Mark Taper Forum in 2015 to direct Paul Oakley Stovall's Immediate Family.

Respected in the academic world, Ms. Rashad is the first recipient of the Denzel Washington Chair in Theatre at Fordham University. She received an Honorary Doctorate from Spelman College where First Lady Michelle Obama delivered the 2011 commencement address. Ms. Rashad conducted Master Classes at the prestigious Ten Chimneys Foundation for the 2015 Lunt Fontanne Fellows. She also holds Honorary Doctorates from Fordham University, Carnegie Mellon University, Howard University, Providence College, Morris Brown College, Clark Atlanta University, Barber Scotia College, St. Augustine College and Brown University.

In 2015, Ms. Rashad received the BET Honors Theatrical Arts Award, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre's Spirit of Shakespeare Award and the Inaugural Legacy Award of the Ruben Santiago Hudson Fine Arts Learning Center. Among the other awards that decorate her walls and shelves are the 2014 Mosaic Woman Legend Award of Diversity Woman Magazine, the Texas Medal of Arts, the National Council of Negro Women's Dorothy L. Height Dreammaker Award, AFTRA's AMEE Award for Excellence in Entertainment, the Board of Directors of New York Women In Film and Television's Muse Award for Outstanding Vision and Achievement, Dallas Women In Film Topaz Award, Peoples' Choice Awards, several NAACP Image Awards, and the Pan African Film Festival's Lifetime Achievement Award.

Rashad serves on the Advisory Board of the PRASAD Project and the Board of Directors of True Colors Theatre, the Broadway Inspirational Voices, The Actors Center, the Center for African American Studies at Princeton University and the ADEPT Center which is steering the restoration of the historic Brainerd Institute.

Steppenwolf Theatre Company is the nation's premier ensemble theater-redefining the landscape of acting and performance. Formed by a collective of actors in 1976, the ensemble has grown to 46 members who represent a remarkable cross-section of actors, directors and playwrights. Thrilling and powerful productions from Balm in Gilead to August: Osage County-and accolades that include the National Medal of Arts and 12 Tony Awards-have made the theater legendary. Steppenwolf produces hundreds of performances and events annually in its three spaces: the 515-seat Downstairs Theatre, the 299-seat Upstairs Theatre and the 80-seat 1700 Theatre. Artistic programing includes a seven-play season; a two-play Steppenwolf for Young Adults season; Visiting Company engagements; and LookOut, a multi-genre performances series. Education initiatives include the nationally recognized work of Steppenwolf for Young Adults, which engages 14,000 participants annually from Chicago's diverse communities; the esteemed School at Steppenwolf; and Professional Leadership Programs for arts administration training. Steppenwolf's own Front Bar: Coffee and Drinks serves coffee, cocktails and a menu curated in partnership with the Boka Restaurant Group day and night. While firmly grounded in the Chicago community, nearly 40 original Steppenwolf productions have enjoyed success both nationally and internationally, including Broadway, Off-Broadway, London, Sydney, Galway and Dublin. Anna D. Shapiro is the Artistic Director and David Schmitz is the Executive Director. Eric Lefkofsky is Chair of Steppenwolf's Board of Trustees. For additional information, visit steppenwolf.org, facebook.com/steppenwolftheatre, twitter.com/steppenwolfthtr and instagram.com/steppenwolfthtr.

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