LOS ANGELES (August 10, 2010) – The Equal Employment Opportunities/Diversity Committees of Screen Actors Guild (SAG), Actors’ Equity Association (AEA) and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) announced today the 8th Annual Ivy Bethune Tri-Union Diversity Awards, recognizing performers and arts organizations who, through their work and activism, have fostered diversity within the entertainment and news media industries and their communities. The theme of the 2010 program is a celebration of those who challenge and change preconceptions. Honorees include actor and artist CCH Pounder (Brothers, Avatar); actor and activist Kal Penn (Harold & Kumar, House, M.D); Deaf West Theatre Company; writer/producer Yvette Lee Bowser (Living Single, Half & Half). The awards will be presented on August 23 at 8 p.m. at the Colony Theatre, 555 North Third Street, Burbank, CA.
Veteran union member actor/artist CCH Pounder (Tri-Union honoree) is being honored for her global work with Arts for a New South Africa and her support of HIV/AIDS awareness programs; Kal Penn (SAG honoree) will be recognized for his groundbreaking achievements as a pioneering Indian American actor in film and television, and also for his diverse advocacy work as a documentary filmmaker focused on malaria eradication in Ethiopia, his service on an advocacy Board of the American Red Cross, and his recently wrapped post as President Barack Obama’s Associate Director of Public Engagement, where he served as liaison to the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities; Deaf West Theatre Company (AEA honoree) was selected in recognition of its work to re-conceive outdated definitions of deaf artists; writer/producer Yvette Lee Bowser (AFTRA honoree), the first African-American woman to develop her own primetime television shows, Living Single, and later Half & Half, which were produced under AFTRA contracts, among other producing and writing credits, is being recognized for the success of her shows in encouraging a generation of young adults to reach their full potential and achieve their goals.
Scheduled performances include actress/dancer Zina Bethune and wheelchair artist Lindsay Berkovitz in a signature work from Bethune TheatreDanse actors; Shoshannah Stern and Matt Jaeger; America’s Got Talent semi-finalist Hannibal Means; and performer Mylo Ironbear.
The Ivy Awards were named in honor of actress Ivy Bethune, a veteran member of all three unions who has devoted more than 80 years of her life to civil rights activism and equal opportunity rights. Honorees are selected by a committee of members from each of the three unions. Attendance is free for members of the three unions (space permitting) who RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or 323-634-8262.
Previous honorees include Ossie Davis, Edward James Olmos, Robert Guillaume, George Takei, dancer Cheryl Burke, April Webster, Debbie Allen, Beulah Quo, Raven-Symoné, lyricist E. Y. Harburg, Margo Albert, Tim Dang, Will Sampson, Sheldon Epps, broadcasters Beverly White and Belva Davis, and Tony Plana and Wendy Raquel Robinson.
Most recently starring in the in the critically acclaimed FX series, The Shield and Brothers on Fox, CCH was nominated for two NAACP Image Award for “Best Actress in a Drama Series” and recently received her second Satellite Award for “Performance by an Actress in a Series, Drama.” Other accolades for CCH include an Emmy nomination for “Best Supporting Actress” for her role as Dr. Angela Hicks on the NBC series ER, and an Emmy nomination for “Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series” for her role in Fox’s The X-Files. In addition, she received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Spoken Word Album for Grow Old Along With Me, The Best is Yet to Come and won an AUDI, the Audio Publishers Association’s top honor, for Women in the Material World. Also, CCH released her first solo album, Smoke, which combined poetry and music.
CCH is involved with the organization, ARTISTS FOR A NEW SOUTH AFRICA, a nonprofit organization dedicated to combating the African AIDS pandemic and advancing democracy and equality in South Africa. The group, headquartered in Los Angeles, now has 1,200 supporters nationwide. CCH and her husband, anthropologist Boubacar Kone, were married in an African ceremony in Dakar, Senegal West Africa and were again remarried at a traditional Los Angeles event six months later, and they have built The Boribana Museum (www.boribanamuseum.org) in Dakar, Senegal for the study of cultures of the African Diaspora. In October of 1997, CCH was honored by the Institute of Caribbean Studies with their award for Excellence in the Arts.
After graduating from high school, CCH entered Hastings College of Arts in Sussex but soon left and moved permanently to the U.S. to be with her family, which by now had settled in Brooklyn, New York. Eventually, CCH attended Ithaca College in upstate New York where her talents caught the attention of Professor Earl McCarroll, from the drama department. Upon graduation, it was McCarroll who urged CCH to join a regional theater company and she moved to Monmouth, Maine and the Shakespeare Theater. “Regional Theater gave me a chance to do the classics and the experimental new plays. It also gave me a chance to grow as an actress. CCH has starred as Hedda Gabler at the prestigious Old Globe Theater and in The Old Settler at the Pasadena Playhouse, which earned her an Ovation nomination for “Best Actress” and a Fred Award (“Best Actress in a Theatrical Season”).
Born and raised in New Jersey, Kal Penn was a student of the public International Studies and Performing Arts High Schools in the Garden State’s Freehold Regional High School District. After extensive arts training in the New York City area, and with the NJ Governor’s School of the Arts, Penn went on to graduate with a BA in Sociology & Specialization in Theater, Film, and Television from the University of California, Los Angeles.
His first notable acting roles were in the Lions Gate comedy National Lampoon’s Van Wilder and New Line Cinema’s Harold and Kumar go to White Castle. After those comedic stints, Penn sought to diversify his artistic portfolio, working on the Fox show, 24, the NBC drama, Law and Order, SVU, and the Warner Bros. epic Superman Returns. He most recently played Dr. Lawrence Kutner on the Golden Globe nominated Fox drama House. Penn won accolades for playing Gogol Ganguli in Fox Searchlight’s critically-acclaimed dramatic adaptation of Pulitzer-winner Jhumpa Lahiri’s novel, The Namesake, for director Mira Nair. Penn is currently filming the third installment of Harold and Kumar.
In addition to his film career, he is active in the nonprofit world, producing a documentary on malaria eradication in Ethiopia, and serving on an advocacy Board of the American Red Cross. Penn made more than 175 stops across 26 states as a surrogate for President Barack Obama during the campaign, and also served on the Obama Campaign’s Arts Policy Committee. Penn recently wrapped his post as President Barack Obama’s Associate Director of Public Engagement to return to acting.
Ivy Bethune is known for her seventy-seven years of service in the civil rights movement. She also has a long career in acting and is best known as “Miss Tuttle,” a regular role on Father Murphy, and for her 1987 recurring role as “Abigail” on General Hospital. She was recently cast on the film Get Smart. Ivy has received three Drama-Logue Best Actress Awards in theater and her credits include performances in many of Southern California's theatre and repertory houses, including South Coast Repertory Co., La Mirada Theatre, Westwood Playhouse, Coronet Theatre, Theatre West and Colony Theatre. She appeared in The World of Ray Bradbury at the Colony, and other Bradbury shows such as The Martian Chronicles, Fahrenheit 451 and Dandelion Wine.
Ivy is on the National Council of Actors’ Equity Association, the local board of AFTRA and is part of several diversity committees at Screen Actors Guild. She was the recipient of AFTRA’s “Angel Award” and the Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival “Eternity Award.” Ivy initiated the “Diversity Celebration” ten years ago, and in honor of her commitment to diversity and years of service to all three performing unions, the Tri-Guild Awards were re-named the “Ivy Bethune Tri-Union Diversity Celebration Awards” as a surprise gift for Ivy on her 87th birthday.
Ivy is also an animal rights activist.