Tonya Pinkins: Getting Her Black on at the 2013 NBTF

By Heyliger, Yvette | Black Masks, Spring 2013 | Go to article overview

Tonya Pinkins: Getting Her Black on at the 2013 NBTF


Heyliger, Yvette, Black Masks


It's that time! The National Black Theatre Festival, founded by the late Larry Leon Hamlin in 1989, is once again taking over Winston-Salem, North Carolina! The New York Times once said that this premier bi-annual festival "is one of the most historic and culturally significant events in the history of [B]lack theatre and American theatre in general." Indeed twenty-six years later, under the leadership of Sylvia Sprinkle Hamlin, H. Geraldine Patton, and Mabel P. Robinson, the National Black Theatre Festival continues to bring the theatregoing public the best of Black theatre, both nationally and internationally

This year, leading us through a host of theatrical productions, encore performances, workshops and seminars, films, poetry jams, readings, a colloquium, programs for young people, and a vendors market is Drama Desk, Obie, and Tony Award-winner Tonya Pinkins. Her co-host is NAACP Image Award-winner and Cable Ace Award-nominee Dorfen Wilson. The two join a stellar roster of co-hosts going back to Dr. Maya Angelou whose support made it possible for Hamlin to unite Black theatres under the umbrella of the National Black Theatre Festival and ensure their survival into the new millennium.

A gifted actress and singer who has also graced television and film, Tonya Pinkins started out in the theatre. She performed her very first show at the prestigious Goodman Theatre when she was only sixteen years old and has been onstage ever since. With her feet set firmly on the path of commercial theatre, all roads led to the "Great White Way," Broadway. She won the much coveted Tony Award at nineteen years of age for her portrayal of "Sweet Anita" in George C. Wolfe's musical Jelly's Last Jam, starring the late and much beloved Gregory Hines. She also received Tony nominations for her roles in the Broadway musicals Play On by Cheryl L. West and Mercedes Ellington, and Caroline or Change by Tony Kushner.

Having been sanctioned by the commercial theatre world, doors should have flown open for Pinkins in other theatrical arenas such as Off-Broadway theatre or Black theatre. Interestingly, however, that has not been the case. In spite of her many accolades, awards and celebrity, she still had to audition for Off-Broadway roles. Even more astonishingly, she was never offered roles in the Black theatre or even called in to audition. Pinkins, who is a no-holes-barred truth-teller, revealed that coming out of the commercial theatre world, she had no relationships in the Black theatre. She felt like an outsider and unaccepted by the Black theatre world, a community that she very much wanted to be a part of.

Then in 2003 she got a call from a friend, actress Kim Fields, to replace an actor who had dropped out of a show called Pandora's Box that was going to the National Black Theatre Festival. She recalls being told that she would only have a few lines and those would be said offstage-she wouldn't even be seen! But she didn't care. In fact, she jumped at the chance. Pinkins wanted to experience the world of Black theatre and to immerse herself in it. "There is no attitude of welcome in the commercial theatre, not really. The National Black Theatre Festival welcomed me," she states. After making the pilgrimage to the NBTF for the first time, Pinkins said her trip "was like traveling to a foreign country." She had never before experienced anything like it.

Later, back in New York, Pinkins was deeply touched to receive an AUDELCO Recognition Award for Excellence in Black Theatre for her title role in Caroline, or Change during its Off-Broadway run at the Public Theatre. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Tonya Pinkins: Getting Her Black on at the 2013 NBTF
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.