The Equal Employment Opportunity committees of Equity, AFTRA and SAG presented the 4th Annual Ivy Bethune Diversity Awards at the East West Players in Los Angeles on June 12, 2006. The awards acknowledge and celebrate members who efforts have made a difference by opening doors and teaching inclusion and respect through example, and have created opportunities in the arts for the underrepresented.
Honorees at this year's event, Honoring Our Trailblzaers, included Margo Albert, actor and founder of LA's Plaza de la Raza arts complex, nominated posthumously by Equity, and Edward James Olmos, Oscar-nominated actor, the tri-union honoree.
The night kicked off with a reunion of four of the original Plaza Players, actors trained by Margo Albert, including Equity member Danny Bolero, who came in on his Monday off from rehearsals in San Diego for The Hot Mikado. Their sketch of Ms. Albert as a gracious, talented and demanding teacher with far-reaching influence in the local and global Hispanic community was echoed through the evening, as other presenters and honorees remembered their own experiences with Margo Albert and the Plaza.
Leading into the final award of the evening was Lito Villareal, who became an Equity member with his recent performance in East West's Sweeney Todd. Accompanied by pianist Myrna Emata, he sang "Wind Beneath My Wings," a statement of determination for all the honorees.
The final award, presented by Gordon Davidson, himself a trailblazer in diversity, was given by all three unions to Edward James Olmos. Mr. Olmos spoke of the industry's accomplishments but also lamented its shortcomings.
Pat Loeb, chair of the tri-guild Ivy Bethune Diversity Award Committee and Equity's Western Region representative to the tri-guild Performers With Disabilities Committee, said, "It was exciting to produce an event that brought the three actors' unions together. We are pleased that word is getting out – the Mayor's office sent a representative with certificates of achievement to the honorees – and this is an award people in the industry want to receive. We are pleased, too, that although progress is slow, more mainstream companies are encouraged to actively hire with a view to being more inclusive."
Tri-union honoree Edward James Olmos, AFTRA honoree Beverly White, SAG honoree Robert David Hall, and Danny Bolero, who accepted the posthumous award on behalf of Equity honoree Margo Albert