Filmmaker Spike Lee is the 2013 recipient of the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize, established by Lillian Gish’s will. Now in its 20th year, it is given annually to “a man or woman who has made an outstanding contribution to the beauty of the world and to mankind’s enjoyment and understanding of life.” Chairman of the selection committee Darren Walker said: “We honor Spike Lee for his brilliance and unwavering courage in using film to challenge conventional thinking, and for the passion for justice he feels in his soul.” Chosen from among 30 finalists and nominated by artists, Mr. Lee’s films include feature films as well as documentaries. Read more about him here and check out the EPL catalog for works by and about him.
Playwright and actress Anna Deavere Smith received this year’s Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize. Now in its 19th year, the $300,000 arts award was established by actress Lillian Gish’s will and given “to a man or woman who has made an outstanding contribution to the beauty of the world and to mankind’s enjoyment and understanding of life.” Chosen from a list of 30 finalists, Ms. Smith is well-known for creating one-woman theater pieces focusing on social issues (Fires in the Mirror, Twilight: Los Angeles) where she portrays multiple people she’s interviewed. Past honorees names include Bob Dylan, Ornette Coleman, Ingmar Bergman, Isabel Allende, Merce Cunningham, Laurie Anderson, Robert Wilson, Bill T. Jones, and Pete Seeger. She’s received numerous other accolades: a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” in 1996, Tony nominations for best actress and best play in 1994, finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1993. Anna Deveare Smith is a professor at NYU in their Performance Studies department and has had numerous film and television roles, including The West Wing and most recently Nurse Jackie. See more in this NYT article.