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At the Circle Repertory Company, where she said her goal was to “confuse people,” she nurtured a new generation of writers and actors in the 1980s and ’90s.
She got her start on Broadway at 15. But after finding a dearth of roles for Black women, she ultimately turned to one-woman shows that addressed racism and sexism.
After establishing herself as a teacher, she started a prolific screen acting career in her 50s that included roles in “Goodfellas” and “The Sopranos.”
A former boxer from the streets of Queens, he became a scene stealer with his portrayals of mobsters, cops and working men with soul.
Best known internationally for her breakout performance in the 1959 film “Black Orpheus,” she challenged racial stereotypes over a seven-decade career.
A former railroad clerk, he didn’t became a full-time actor until his 40s, but he made up for lost time in films like “Rudy” and TV shows like “Everwood.”
A playwright, novelist and poet, she was a leading African writer who explored the complexities faced by modern women living in the shadow of colonialism.
In a career that included a Tony nomination for “Company,” he specialized in playing uptight characters, notably Candice Bergen’s stuffy straight man.
A former Chicago schoolteacher, she appeared on TV in ‘A Different World’ and ‘I’ll Fly Away,’ winning an Emmy in 1993.