Christine Toy Johnson, a highly-respected actor/writer/producer, Equity Council member and advocate for diversity and inclusion in the entertainment industry, has been named the recipient of Actors' Equity Association's prestigious 2013 Rosetta LeNoire Award. The Award will be presented at Equity's Eastern Regional Membership meeting on Friday April 12, 2013 in New York City.
The Rosetta LeNoire Award, established in 1988, recognizes outstanding artistic contributions to the universality of the human experience in American Theater. The Award is given to an individual, theater or producing organization with an exemplary record in the hiring or promotion of ethnic minorities, female actors and actors with disabilities through multi-racial and/or non-traditional casting.
Christine Toy Johnson has worked throughout her entire career to eliminate cultural and racial barriers in theatre, film and television, and has been an articulate advocate for broader issues of cultural diversity and inclusion, including disability. She has been on the front lines of bringing awareness to casting directors, directors and producers about the discrimination and lack of employment opportunities that Asian and Asian-American artists face.
As an actress, Christine has always made a point of auditioning for roles that are normally given to non-Asian actors, challenging the preconceptions of those with casting authority. She has succeeded in these efforts and her resume is noteworthy for the number of roles she has played non-traditionally in numerous Broadway, touring, regional, off-Broadway and other Equity productions across the country.
Over the past ten years, Ms. Johnson produced and co-directed the award-winning documentary feature film, "Transcending - the Wat Misaka Story," (based on the life of the Japanese-American basketball star who played with the 1947 Knicks), and has written 11 plays, a musical libretto and four screenplays. These works were included in the Library of Congress Asian-Pacific American Performing Arts Collection in 2010 and she has received 13 grant awards from arts funding organizations in support of her work.
Ms. Johnson has been recognized by the Japanese-American Citizens League for her "exemplary leadership and dedication" and in 2012, she received the Asian-American Arts Alliance Wai Look Award for "Outstanding Service to the Arts."
A member of Equity's Council since 1992, Ms. Johnson has served on numerous committees including the Eastern Region's Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Committee (Co-Chair); the joint Actors' Equity-Broadway League EEO Committee; the Equity News Committee (Chair); as well as several negotiating teams. She spearheaded the union's Asian Heritage Month celebrations and is a founding member of AAPAC, the Asian American Performing Arts Coalition, which has provoked a meaningful, industry dialogue about the lack of representation of Asian-American actors on American stages. She has served on the Board of the Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts for 13 years.