Date ArticleType
1/23/2018 St. Pete News

Kenny Leon, Tony Award-Winning Director, To Be Honored in Hometown Celebration Spotlighting the Debut of Legacy-56 Sankofa Series


Contact: Loretta Monroe-Calvin
(727) 488-0164

Kenny Leon, Tony Award-Winning Director, To Be Honored in Hometown Celebration Spotlighting the Debut of Legacy-56 Sankofa Series
Legacy-56 Sankofa Series honors individuals with proven success to serve as positive role models.
First in the Series: “The Journey Home – An Evening Honoring the Legacy of Kenny Leon”- February 10, 2018, USF St. Pete Campus

ST. PETERSBURG, FL (January 2, 2018) -- Kenny Leon, the celebrated artistic director who won the 2014 Tony Award for the revival of A Raisin in the Sun starring Denzel Washington, will be honored in his hometown of St. Petersburg, Florida, during a special “welcome home” celebration organized by Legacy-56, Inc., a non-profit group of thought-leaders committed to changing the trajectory of Southside St. Petersburg – and former classmates of Leon.

The elaborately planned event, debuting the opening of the Legacy-56 Sankofa Series, will celebrate Leon as a hometown native, 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, theatre and film director, educator, and inspirational voice to aspiring youth, actors and colleagues all across the country.

“Kenny is my former classmate and a very dear friend who’s always inspired me. With a notable career spanning over 40 years – Kenny personifies success! He has remained rooted and grounded to the essence of what makes all of us great – and his work encompasses an unbelievable journey of storytelling through the performing arts, which we deem vital to the academic and future success of all children – especially children of color,” states 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 theatre 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 Theatre, Pinellas County Schools and many other great community partners.”
“The Journey Home – An Evening Honoring the Legacy of Kenny Leon” – is slated for Saturday, February 10, 2018 – 7:00 p.m. at University of South Florida (USF) – St. Petersburg Campus, Main Ballroom.

Kenny Leon is co-founder of True Colors Theatre Company in Atlanta, GA where he serves as artistic director. As a
director, his Broadway credits include 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 ten Tony nominations and won three Tony Awards including Best Revival), the 2004 revival of A Raisin in the Sun with Sean (P. Diddy) Combs, Gem of the Ocean, Radio Golf and the 2014 premiere of Holler if Ya Hear Me -- a musical created using the music of Tupac Shakur. He is directing the upcoming Broadway revival of Children of a Lesser God. Leon’s recent TV and film work includes “Hairspray LIVE!” and “The Wiz LIVE!” for NBC. 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 honor to be 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 ‘60’s 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 theatre arts, in education can do for the hearts and minds of our youth,” declares Regina Rosier-Brown, retired educator and Legacy-56 Board Member, “His recognition and honor is long-overdue.”

Along with the grand evening celebration, Legacy-56 Sankofa Series includes a two-hour Master Class conducted by Kenny Leon on Saturday morning, February 10th – 9:00 a.m. at the American Stage Theatre in downtown St. Petersburg, 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
Legacy-56, Inc. is a group of thought-leaders and former classmates born in 1956, advocating cultural and social change to impact systemic and structural issues affecting the socialization, education and economic well-being of African American communities. In the spirit of Sankofa – meaning to reach back and fetch it, Legacy-56 partners, supports and builds upon existing and developing efforts to actualize the full potential, power and purpose of African-American communities and its most precious resources.

With a specific focus on honoring the past to fortify the present and ensure the future, Legacy-56 engages in on-going transformative dialogue and activism to advance racial equity, educational opportunity, cultural diversity, social justice, shared spirituality, and the well-being of youth, citizens and communities in South St. Petersburg and across the world. The organization is committed to establishing an enduring legacy and building for eternity.
About Legacy-56 Sankofa Series Legacy-56 Sankofa Series honors African American 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 theatre, they envisioned a smartly-managed, inclusive theatre 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 theatre 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 earlycareer 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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