James Earl Jones Wins Paul Robeson Award

James Earl Jones Jr.

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James Earl Jones is the recipient of Actors’ Equity Association’s 2011 Paul Robeson Award, the union announced Monday. The award, created 40 years ago, is given annually to the person “who best exemplifies the principles by which Mr. Robeson lived,” Equity said in a statement. Past winners include Sidney Poitier, Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, and Robeson himself.

“Mr. Robeson was blessed with many endowments—among them the scholarship and athleticism of his youth, and the activist commitment that followed his fame as a performer,” Jones said in a statement to be read Oct. 14 at Equity’s New York membership meeting. “Perhaps he reached the most souls (including mine) as a singer and artist in the performing arts, and in doing so, he mightily elevated the importance of art to humanity.”

Jones is a past recipient of two Tony Awards, four Emmys, a Golden Globe, and a Grammy. He was nominated for an Academy Award in 1971 for his portrayal of boxer Jack Jefferson in the film version of “The Great White Hope”—a role he had originated on Broadway two years earlier and for which he received one of his Tonys. He is currently starring in “Driving Miss Daisy” in London’s West End.

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