A dynamic Twin Cities theater leader and a steadfast Twin Cities theater are being toasted nationally for their "diverse and inclusive casting."
Guthrie Theater artistic director Joseph Haj (pictured above), who has long championed equity and diversity, and Ten Thousand Things Theater Company, which was founded by stalwart visionary Michelle Hensley, have jointly won the Rosetta LeNoire Award.
The co-recipients of the "Rosie" were named Wednesday by the Actors’ Equity professional performers union, which administers the award named for a late actor and Broadway producer who championed inclusion and was its first recipient in 1988.
Past winners of the "Rosie" include George C. Wolfe of the Public Theatre, the Detroit Repertory Theatre and Mixed Blood.
"I'm a member of three unions, and Equity is the one I've been with the longest — 30 years — so this is very meaningful," Haj said Wednesday. "As someone who was first and foremost an actor, I know how challenging it is for an actor of color to get roles. That's why we strive to maximally inclusive."
Hensley, who has been inclusive in her company since its founding in the late 1980s, also expressed gratitude and humility in a statement.
"It is an honor to be recognized for...opening up possibilities for women and people of color through casting, both for our actors, who get the joy of playing unconventional roles, and for our audiences, who can see themselves and others portrayed in new ways in the stories we tell,” she said, adding that she was also pleased to be in Haj's company.
The award will officially be presented to the respective winners in August.