‘Julius and Vivenne’ named NBTF celebrity co-chairs
BY TEVIN STINSON
Anna Maria Horsford and Obba Babatunde will serve as the celebrity co-chairs for the next National Black Theatre Festival scheduled for July 31 through Aug. 5. The announcement was made earlier this week during a press conference held at Embassy Suites Hotel.
The duo from New York who currently star together on the CBS daytime soap opera “The Bold and the Beautiful” as Julius and Vivenne Avant. Horsford, who is best known for her roles as Thelma Frye on the 1980s sitcom “Amen” said the fact that she gets to shine a light on the importance of theatre is what excites her most.
“Theater was the first introduction to the place that was magic for me as a child. I remember the first time I was able to buy a theatrical newspaper and I held it to my heart,” said Horsford. “Theater is a place you can escape and explore. That’s the exciting part about this festival; it brings people together to explore talent they didn’t even know existed.”
Babatunde, who attended the first festival held in 1989, is best known for his role in the original Broadway production of “Dreamgirls.” He said as co-chair he hopes to inspire individuals to follow their dreams. He said seeing the festival grow over the years has been like watching a child grow and to serve as co-chair is an honor.
“In some ways, we have become more impressed with celebrity than capability, so it is very important that we continue to encourage through the arts of entertainment,” he said. “We have the ability to encourage, inspire, enlighten as well as entertain.”
The 2017 National Black Theatre Festival is set to begin on Monday, July 31 and end on Saturday, Aug. 5. Hosted by the North Carolina Black Repertory Company (NCBRC), based in Winston-Salem, the bi-annual event will feature a wide range of theatrical performances, including dramas, comedies and musicals. During the press conference on Monday, March 6, Sylvia Sprinkle-Hamlin, the widow of NCBRC founder Larry Leon Hamlin, said she is certain that this year’s festival will have something for everyone and everyone will be watching.
Sprinkle-Hamlin, who also serves as NCBRC president and executive producer, said the festival selection committee has viewed over 120 submissions from theater companies from 20 different states, Canada, South Africa, and the United Kingdom.
“The eyes of the world will be on the 2017 National Black Theatre Festival,” Sprinkle-Hamlin said.