East West Players, the nation’s premier Asian American theater, celebrates the achievements of individuals who have raised the visibility of the Asian Pacific American community through their craft at the 48th Anniversary Visionary Awards Dinner and Silent Auction.
The fundraising event will take place on Monday, April 28, at the Universal Hilton. Proceeds from the gala will benefit EWP’s educational and artistic programs.
“Opportunities for Asian American artists and executives in the entertainment industry are beginning to increase each year with greater momentum,” said Tim Dang, EWP’s producing artistic director. “With America’s changing demographics and a larger global reach, the entertainment industry must recognize the wealth of Asian American talent and the rich and cultural diversity that emanate from our community. While there is still much work to be done to increase our visibility, we thank our long-standing partners at The Walt Disney Company, CBS and NBC and welcome new partners such as Mattel, HBO and Mnet America. We salute those who have made a valuable impact on the APA community and congratulate all of our honorees.”
“I am humbled receiving an award with the word ‘visionary’ in it,” says one of the honorees, actor Reggie Lee. “Especially from a theater organization that has not only been considered the largest, and first and foremost Asian American theater company in the United States, but one which I call home. Feeling like I’m being honored by my peers for having, in some way, been an example of paving the way is nothing short of heartwarming. I am grateful and eagerly look forward to celebrating the progress of our Asian American creatives as well as those who have given us tremendous opportunity. Here’s to a bright future for East West Players and a good time on April 28!”
Following are profiles of the 2014 honorees:
• Paul Kikuchi (Made in America Award) is a Japanese American playwright/screenwriter. His first play, “Ixnay,” received its world premiere in EWP’s 2008-2009 season. In 2011, EWP presented the world premiere of his third play, “Wrinkles.” The following year, his fourth play, “Slice,” was presented by Metamorphosis Theatre Company at the Fremont Center Theatre in South Pasadena. His other play is “The Long Arm of Stanly Matsui.” As a screenwriter, two of his screenplays, “Blindsided” and “Turnaround,” have been optioned.
• Reggie Lee (Visionary Award) stars as Sgt. Wu on NBC’s hit sci-fi police drama “Grimm,” currently in its third season. Prior to “Grimm” he was best known for his role as Secret Service Agent Bill Kim on the popular Fox show “Prison Break.” Since starring as Lance Nguyen in Universal’s high-octane blockbuster “The Fast and the Furious” in 2001, Lee has had memorable roles in films from “Pirates of the Caribbean” to “Tropic Thunder,” and more recently, in “Safe” and “The Dark Knight Rises.” Stage credits include Broadway and national touring companies of “Miss Saigon” and “Carousel.” He continues to be active with EWP.
• Maurissa Tancharoen (Visionary Award) is currently co-creator and executive producer on “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” for ABC. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she grew up singing and dancing, and toured the country as a member of a Motown pop group. At Occidental College, she became heavily involved in the theater and wrote several award-winning plays. She started her screenwriting career as a staff writer on the Fox series “Oliver Beene” before moving on to write an action-comedy for Revolution Studios. She also created and executive-produced the MTV series “DanceLife” with her brother, director Kevin Tancharoen (“Mortal Kombat Legacy,” “Fame”). With her husband, Jed Whedon, and his brothers, she co-wrote and appeared in the Emmy Award-winning musical “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.” She then went on to write and produce for television shows such as “Dollhouse,” “Drop Dead Diva,” and “Spartacus.”
• Peter Lenkov and Ken Solarz (Visionary Award) are the executive producers of “Hawaii 5-0,” which airs on CBS and is seen in over 200 international markets.
Solarz began his professional writing career as a journalist for both print and television. He covered organized crime and politics and produced documentaries while working for ABC, PBS and CNN. He came to Hollywood in 1986 to write for Michael Mann’s “Crime Story” and “Miami Vice.” Solarz has also had four movies produced, including “City of Industry.” He has written and produced 13 other TV series, including “The Untouchables,” “Profiler,” and “CSI: New York.”
Lenkov has been a writing producer of movies and TV shows for nearly 20 years. Prior to “Hawaii 5-0,” he served as executive producer on “CSI: NY,” for which he won a Media Access Award. His additional TV credits include “24,” for which he earned an Emmy nomination for best TV series, “The District” and “La Femme Nikita.” He also co-produced the miniseries “XIII,” based on the popular graphic novel and video game of the same name, and created “Metajets” and “Kung Fu Dino Posse,” two new animated TV shows. On the big screen, writing and producing credits include “Demolition Man,” starring Sylvester Stallone and Sandra Bullock, “Son-in-Law,” and “Jury Duty.” In July 2013, Universal released “R.I.P.D.,” starring Jeff Bridges, Ryan Reynolds, and Kevin Bacon. The film was based on the comic book written by Lenkov for Dark Horse Publishing. Lenkov’s second comic series, “Fort: Prophet of the Unexplained,” was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award in 2002.
Current major sponsors of the gala include:
Platinum Circle — Edison International, NBC Universal, Mattel, The Walt Disney Company, CBS
Gold Circle — The Thomas R. Bancroft Family, Wells Fargo
Silver Circle — Sony Pictures Entertainment
Bronze Circle — Lynn and Brian Arthurs, Tim Dang and Darrel Cummings, I.W. Group Inc., Rod Nakamoto, Lynn Waggoner, Reggie Lee, Sanrio, HBO, Union Bank, Mnet America
VIP reception sponsor is Comcast.
Award-winning composer Nathan Wang (Beijing Olympics/Shaolin Monks, Steven Spielberg’s Oscar-winning film “The Last Days”) will serve as the evening’s musical director.
The Hilton Universal City is located at 555 Universal Hollywood Dr., Universal City. The no-host reception and silent auction will start at 6 p.m. The dinner and awards program will start at 7 p.m. Tickets are $175 to $1,750. Full table sponsorship packages are also available. For more information, visit www.eastwestplayers.org, call (213) 625-7000 or email [email protected]