Professor wins theater diversity award

Amadeus Smith

Willie Boston, Kent State’s director of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, said he knew a large glass globe, a knapsack and airport security wasn’t going to work out.

While trying to board his plane, Boston was asked to check his bag carrying the Rosetta LeNoire Award.

“It is now two awards and a few bits and pieces,” he said, laughing.

The Actors’ Equity Association gives the award to individuals and theater companies who help increase diversity in theater. Boston said the organization has given the award since 1989.

The award is named after the late Rosetta LeNoire, who played Estelle Winslow on the ’90s ABC sitcom “Family Matters.”

The organization selects the recipient by mailing ballots to union members to make nominations. Boston said nominators must mail the ballot in with documentation validating the nominee’s work. At this point, the AEA Equal Opportunity Employment Committee goes through the ballots and selects the best candidate for the award.

Boston worked in the AEA, a national union representing 45,000 stage actors and managers, as its national director of diversity and equal opportunity.

He came to Kent State this semester after his work with AEA, which lasted 15 years.

He said the organization usually recognizes producers or theater group for their work in increasing diversity in the theater. But Boston was recognized for his work in communications and “looking at numbers” of the hiring of diverse actors.

He said the AEA pushes for non-traditional casting, a type of casting that stresses the idea that many roles aren’t race or gender specific.

Contact minority affairs reporter Amadeus Smith at [email protected].