Honorees Morocco Omari, Amanda Holmes, Dr. John Clemmons for Lora Clemmons, Teddy McDavid, Richard Lawson
Gaynell Drexler, Winell Herron, Heidi Smith
Richard Lawson, Lakshmi Seshadri, Tina Knowles Lawson, James T. Campbell (Facebook photo)
Ensemble board chair Alaina Benford, board president Jesse Tyson
Mayor Sylvester Turner, Morocco Omari
Yvonne & Rufus Cormier
Ike Adotama, Johnte Archer
Jane & Larry Wagner, Merele Yarborough
Shannon Broussard, Tonya Brooks
Genora & Dwight Boykins
Derrick Mitchell & Roslyn Bazzelle Mitchell
Bryce Kennard, Martina Hairston
Alison Ayers Bell & Chris Bell
Wendy Lewis Armstrong, Zerlene Shamblee
Tamla Wilson, Jackie Fair
Marcus & Heidi Smith
Doug & Winell Herron
Angelbert Motyer, Dr. Iman Hypolite
Dr. Antonio D. tillis, Diedra fontaine, Marcellus Upshaw
Pastor Juanita Rasmus of St. John's United Methodist Church
The stars, and we do mean stars, aligned in beautiful formation Saturday night when the Ensemble Theatre troupe and fans gathered at the Hilton Americas-Houston for a black-tie evening celebrating the 43rd anniversary of the country’s third largest African-American theater and the oldest in the southwest.
Consider the presence of honorees Morocco Omari, Actor of the Year, and Richard Lawson, actor and master class instructor and recipient of the Legacy Award. Eloquent in their remarks, the charming Omari (Tariq Cousins in Empire) and the mesmerizing Lawson (Drama Critics Award winner) emphasized the importance of the Ensemble and other similar theaters as a gateway for African-American youth and as “one of the last vestiges of black literature in the country.”
A star in her own profession, Sugar Land native Amanda Holmes was recognized with the Rising Star Award for her contributions in the field of public health. Holding a master’s degree in global health from Washington University in St. Louis, she works as a public health professional at the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Teddy McDavid, one of the theater’s longest serving volunteers and president of the Ensemble Guild, was honored as Community Volunteer of the Year.
Posthumously, the beloved Lora Clemmons received the President’s Award, the honor accepted by her husband, Dr. John Clemmons, and their niece, Lauren Randle. A stylish, no-nonsense powerhouse, she earned her law degree from Texas Southern University and managed her husband’s medical practice while fervently supporting the Ensemble, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston and the South Central YWCA, and serving on the boards of the Ensemble, Houston Grand Opera, the Houston Symphony and Society for the Performing Arts. Lora also proudly held the honor of being a member of the Houston Chronicle Best Dressed Hall of Fame.
Applause, applause for chairs Gaynell Drexler and Heidi Smith, honorary chair Winell Herron, board chair Alaina King Benford and board president Jesse Tyson for the well-paced, entertaining evening that included Ensemble actors. The opening performance to “Rhythm of the Night,” the gala theme, was presented by the Ensemble Theatre Dancers; a piece from The Green Book headlined by Rachel Hemphill Dickson, Timothy Eric and Christian Simon; and the performance of “I’m Every Woman” by cast members. Late-night dance tunes were provided by The Collector’s Item band.
PC Seen: Ensemble executive director Janette Cosley, Ensemble artistic director Eileen J. Morris, Mayor Sylvester Turner, Genora and City Councilman Dwight Boykins, City Councilwoman Amanda Edwards, Tina Knowles Lawson (wife of Richard Lawson), Marcus Smith, Doug Herron, Yvonne and Rufus Cormier, Eileen and Kase Lawal, Alison Ayers Bell and Chris Bell, Lanie Gordon and David Mincberg, Merele Yarborough, Roslyn Bazzelle Mitchell and Derrick Mitchell, Lakshmi Seshadri and James T. Campbell, Angelbert Motyer, Dr. Iman Hypolite, John Guess Jr., Tonya Brooks, and Shannon Broussard.