Caribbean-Roots Actresses Among Kennedy Center Honorees

Puerto Rican actress and singer Rita Moreno is also among the 2015 Honorees.
Actress Cicely Tyson, who was born and raised in Harlem to immigrant parents from Nevis, West Indies is among the 2015 Kennedy Honorees.

News Americas, WASHINGTON, D.C., Thurs. July 16, 2015: Two legendary Caribbean-roots actresses are among six icons of the arts who will this year receive the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors.

Actress Cicely Tyson, who was born and raised in Harlem to immigrant parents from Nevis, West Indies along with a Puerto Rican actress and singer Rita Moreno will be lauded for Lifetime Artistic Achievement along with the musical band the Eagles, New York-born composer and singer-songwriter Carole King, an American film director, screenwriter, producer, and entrepreneur George Lucas and former principal conductor of the Vienna State Opera, Seiji Ozawa.


Tyson is an actress, advocate, and humanitarian renowned for her portrayals of strong female characters on stage, screen, and television. From her stunning initial stage appearance as Barbara Allen in Dark of the Moon to her triumphant 2013 return to Broadway, Tyson has done it all.

After a 30-year hiatus from the Broadway stage, Tyson returned as Mother Carrie Watts in Horton Foote’s The Trip to Bountiful, earning rave reviews and the triple crown of theater awards: the Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle awards for Best Actress in a Play.

She will return to the Broadway stage in September 2015 in The Gin Game co-starring James Earl Jones. She is best known for her double Emmy performance (Best Lead Actress in a Drama as well as a special, unprecedented Emmy Award for Actress of the Year) as Jane in The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman.

Tyson was also nominated for an Academy Award for Sounder and received her third Emmy Award for The Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All and was nominated for her performances in Roots, King, Sweet Justice, The Marva Collins Story, and A Lesson Before Dying. Her film credits include The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, Fried Green Tomatoes, Because of Winn-Dixie, Hoodlum, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Madea’s Family Reunion, Why Did I Get Married Too?, The Help, and Alex Cross. Since 1996, Tyson has served as the guiding force of the Cicely L. Tyson Community School of Performing and Fine Arts in East Orange, New Jersey.

Her father arrived in New York City at age 21 and was processed at Ellis Island on August 4, 1919. He worked as a carpenter, painter, and at any other jobs he could find while her mother worked as a domestic to raise her.

Puerto Rican actress and singer Rita Moreno is also among the 2015 Honorees.


Moreno, now 83, has won all four of the most prestigious awards in show business: the Oscar, the Tony, two Emmys, and a Grammy. She was born in Humacao, Puerto Rico and is the first Hispanic to have won all four awards. Her countless credits span more than six decades, beginning with her Broadway debut at age 13.

Moreno has starred on Broadway; London’s West End; appeared in more than 40 feature films, and countless television shows; has performed in numerous regional theaters, most recently in her one-woman show, Life Without Makeup at the Berkeley Rep. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004 and the National Medal of Arts by President Obama in 2010.

In 2013, her first book, Rita Moreno: A Memoir, published by Celebra Books instantly became a New York Times Bestseller. In January 2014, Rita received the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement

Award. This past June, she served as the 2015 Grand Marshal of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade and in September, Rita will be the voice of Abuelita in the new animated series, Nina’s World, on NBC-TV’s Sprout Network.

The recipients will be honored at the 38th annual national celebration of the arts on Sunday, December 6, 2015. The gala will be broadcast on CBS on December 29, 2015 at 9:00 p.m., ET/PT

The President and Mrs. Obama will receive the Honorees and members of the Artists Committee who nominate them, along with the Kennedy Center Board of Trustees at the White House prior to the gala performance.

The Kennedy Center Honors medallions will be presented on Saturday, December 5, the night before the gala, at a State Department dinner hosted by Secretary of State John Kerry.

“The Kennedy Center Honors recognizes the extraordinary and unparalleled talents of individuals whose impact and genius have left an indelible mark on civilization,” stated Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein. “Quite simply, our Honorees represent the voices, soundtracks, and stories of our personal lives and memories. The music of the Eagles has endured as the quintessential American rock and roll sound for generations; Carole King’s heartfelt lyrics and tunes are woven throughout the tapestry of American music; George Lucas’ films have enriched our world with stories of epic adventure; Rita Moreno’s iconic spitfire roles are embedded in the heart of American culture; Seiji Ozawa’s artistic leadership as a conductor has set a new standard for orchestras around the world; and Cicely Tyson’s range of strong female roles on stage and screen have broken boundaries for women of color.”