Tony Award-winning director Kenny Leon to be honored

Kenny Leon, ae, featured

ST. PETERSBURG – Celebrated artistic director and Tony Award winner native son Kenny Leon will be honored during a special welcome home celebration organized by Legacy-56, Inc., a non-profit group of thought-leaders committed to changing the trajectory of south St. Pete.

The elaborately planned event, debuting the opening of the Legacy-56 Sankofa Series, will celebrate Leon as a hometown hero, showcase his expansive theatrical legacy and provide a retrospective of his lifework and commitment to advancing diversity and African-American culture.  Leon is a highly sought-after accomplished actor, theater and film director, educator and inspirational voice to aspiring youth.

Kenny Leon Portrait, ae, featured“Kenny is my former classmate and a very dear friend who’s always inspired me,” stated Dr. Katurah Jenkins-Hall, retired USF professor, psychologist and president of Legacy-56.  “I’m so excited to share his passion, excellence and enduring legacy and expose our community to his incredible mastery and accomplishments in theater and film.  It was only fitting to launch our new signature event, Legacy-56 Sankofa Series, at a time when we could honor Kenny and his remarkable journey, and work in collaboration with the City of St. Petersburg, American Stage Theater, Pinellas County Schools and many other great community partners.”

“The Journey Home – An Evening Honoring the Legacy of Kenny Leon” is slated for Saturday, Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus, 200 6th Ave. S.

Leon is the co-founder of True Colors Theatre Company in Atlanta where he serves as artistic director.  As a director, his Broadway credits include a Tony Awards for Best Direction of a Play and Best Revival for the 2014 production of “A Raisin in the Sun,” “The Mountaintop” starring Samuel L. Jackson and St. Petersburg’s own Angela Bassett, “Stick Fly” produced by Alicia Keys, August Wilson’s “Fences” starring Washington and Viola Davis (which garnered 10 Tony nominations and won three Tony Awards including Best Revival) just to name a few.

Leon was awarded the 2010 Julia Hansen Award for Excellence in Directing by the Drama League of New York and in 2017 received the coveted “Mr. Abbott Award” by the Stage Directors & Choreographers Society for his outstanding artistry and creativity. The Abbott Award is one of the highest honors bestowed upon a director, with Leon being one of only two African Americans to receive the award.

Having spent time with legendary playwright August Wilson during the final years of his life, Leon captured insight on views that now serve as a voice of the African-American experience throughout the 1960s and thus co-founded the National August Wilson Monologue Competition for high school students, a national education program teaching reading comprehension, public speaking, and performance techniques through the work of the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright.

“Kenny is a stellar example of what promotion of arts programs, especially theater arts, in education can do for the hearts and minds of our youth,” declared Regina Rosier-Brown, retired educator and Legacy-56 board member. “His recognition and honor are long overdue.”

Along with the grand evening celebration, Legacy-56 Sankofa Series includes a two-hour Master Class conducted by Leon on Saturday, Feb. 10 at 9 a.m. at the American Stage Theater for community actors, middle and high school students.  A private invitation-only VIP reception will also be held for city officials and community leaders where Leon will be greeted and welcomed as St. Petersburg’s native son!

For tickets and sponsorships information or to pledge a donation, contact Lorene Blossom-Gregory at (678) 414-5311.

About Legacy-56 Sankofa Series

Legacy-56 Sankofa Series honors African Americans from the St. Petersburg Bay area with proven success in their professions to serve as positive role models and whose careers and legacies encourage others to become active in community service for future development of all citizens and especially African-American youth.

About Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company

When Artistic Director Kenny Leon and Managing Director Jane Bishop teamed up in 2002 to design a new theater, they envisioned a smartly-managed, inclusive theater company that would achieve both local and national impact. Thanks to a tremendous outpouring of support, their vision has quickly turned into reality.

The name True Colors Theatre Company reflects a promise to search for truth and clarity. True Colors Theatre Company’s mission is creating a moveable feast of theater grounded in the rich canon of African-American classics and branching out to include bold interpretations of world drama and a strong commitment to diverse new voices, helping to develop those early-career writers who are creating tomorrow’s classics today.

True Colors Theatre Company intends to be an important voice in the American discussion of diversity, supporting and propelling individuals and institutions in their quest for understanding. Operationally, the company will strive to remain fiscally sound and small enough that every individual who works there can be heard, be accountable, get better at what they do, and live out True Colors’ core values.

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