BEVERLY HILLS, Calif., April 24, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — The Beverly Hills/Hollywood Branch of the NAACP names celebrated host and esteemed honorees for the upcoming 28th Annual NAACP Theatre Awards dinner, scheduled to be held on Monday, June 17, 2019 at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel, 506 S. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA, 90071 at 6pm.
Making her hosting debut at this year’s awards show is accomplished comedian, actress, confirmed bacon lover and award-winning talk-show host, Loni Love. Ms. Love can be seen daily on the Emmy-winning talk show “The Real,” which is in the midst of their fifth season. Hailing from the “Motor City,” Love grew up in Detroit’s Brewster-Douglas Housing Projects, once home to members of Motown’s most iconic group, The Supremes. Despite her meager beginnings, she was a young woman who had options. Raised by a single, working mother, her hard work ethic afforded her a scholarship to Prairie View A & M University in Texas where she earned a degree in electrical engineering. It was at Prairie View where she stumbled upon her gift for stand-up comedy after winning $50 in a campus competition. Upon graduation, she accepted an engineering position in Los Angeles and continued to hone her comedic chops at local comedy spots including the renowned Laugh Factory. Love flourished on the comedy stage and her timing earned her recognition and awards.
With a vast stage and screen career that began in 1971, the NAACP Theatre Awards will bestow this year’s NAACP Lifetime Achievement Theatre Award to acclaimed actress and Tony Award winner Lillias White. Making her Broadway debut in “Barnum” in 1981, Broadway stages have become Ms. White’s home away from home. This Brooklyn native has numerous iconic musicals on her bio including “Cats,” “Chicago,” and the original 1981 production of “Dreamgirls” as the understudy for Effie, later taking over the role in the 1987 revival of the same. In 1997, she earned a Tony Award, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Award for her spot-on portrayal of a wearied, streetwise hooker named Sonja in Cy Coleman’s “The Life.” Ms. White revealed in a recent interview how she reached this particular character, sharing that “In approaching this character, think of her as a girl who grew up with great family values but took a wrong turn. And sing from your “down-there” if you know what I mean.” In 2019, White earned a Tony Award nomination for her role as Funmilayo Kuti in “Fela!”
The first African American Actor to earn the Triple Crown of Acting – an Academy Award, an Emmy Award and a Tony Award – is none other than incomparable Viola Davis and she’s this year’s recipient of the NAACP Trailblazer Theatre Award. Describing her early years as having “lived in abject poverty and dysfunction,” Ms. Davis has risen from the ashes of her humble beginnings like a Phoenix, earning the titles of Thespian, Producer, Philanthropist, Honorary Doctorate degree holder (times 2), Wife and Mother in the process. Born in South Carolina, when she was only 2 months old, her family migrated north to Rhode Island. It was at Central Falls High School in Rhode Island where her love for the theatre began to blossom. Ms. Davis later attended Rhode Island College, majoring in theater and from there it was off to famed arts conservatory, The Juilliard School, graduating in 1993.
This year, the NAACP President’s Award will be presented to political pioneer Herb J. Wesson, Jr. who has served as the first African American Los Angeles City Council President since 2011. Mr. Wesson has a long and successful record of serving the constituents of Southern California. First as Chief of Staff for former City Council member Nate Holden and for LA County Supervisor Yvonne Burke. He then transitioned into public office in 1998, winning an election to the California State Assembly to represent the 47th District. Wesson then became the second African American to be elected as Speaker of the California Assembly with a unanimous vote. When his term was up, Mr. Wesson returned to Los Angeles City government, having been elected to the Los Angeles City Council representing District 10. One of the most racially diverse districts in the City, Mr. Wesson’s District includes the neighborhoods of Koreatown, West Adams, Little Bangladesh and parts of Baldwin Hills. During his tenure, Mr. Wesson has led the way for L.A.’s minimum wage increase to $15.00 per hour and was instrumental in getting Kaiser Permanente Medical Offices to open offices in an underserved portion of his district. He currently chairs the Ad Hoc Committee for the 2028 Summer Olympics that will be held in the city. Mr. Wesson continues to be one of the city’s leading advocates for the homeless. He was the leader of the city of Los Angeles’ successful HHH ballot initiative that provided funding for 10,000 units to housing for the homeless. Many of these units are currently under construction.