On Monday, playwright, novelist and songwriter Suzan-Lori Parks was honored with the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize.
The award ceremony took place at The Public Theater in New York City.
Best known for Topdog/Underdog starring Mos Def and Jeffrey Wright, for which she was awarded a Pulitzer Prize, Park’s work echoes race, sexuality, family and society.
“To be a recipient of the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize is a great honor. Past winners—I’ve been looking up to them and following in their footsteps for years. And now I’m invited to join them? It’s brilliantly trippy. And it’s humbling too, getting invited into this family of artists,” said Parks.
The Gish Prize selection committee chose Parks from among a multidisciplinary group of 54 outstanding figures nominated by members of the arts community.
“With the help of our esteemed selection committee, we have continued to support Lillian Gish’s vision of recognizing and celebrating those artists who have made an indelible impact through their work. In choosing Suzan-Lori Parks, this year’s committee has underscored the continuing importance of dramatic writing in giving voice to the endless variety of human experience and shaping our society, and has provided substantive support to Ms. Parks’s ongoing creative endeavors. We congratulate Suzan-Lori Parks on receiving this high honor,” said Jacqueline E. Elias, managing director, J.P. Morgan Private Bank.
Ella Baff, newly appointed Senior Program Officer for the Arts and Cultural Heritage Program for The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, stated, “Suzan-Lori Parks has, in the words of Ms. Gish, ‘made an outstanding contribution to the beauty of the world and to mankind’s enjoyment and understanding of life.’ She has an audacious and vivid imagination. Her writing is a complex and multi-layered articulation of history, myth, sexuality and identity told in voices that need to be heard.”
Past recipients awarded the Gish Prize include Frank Gehry, Spike Lee, Isabel Allende, Bill T. Jones, Trisha Brown, Anna Deavere Smith, Pete Seeger, Chinua Achebe and Robert Redford.