Tony winner André De Shields speaks with theatre and dance community
On December 4, 2020 the department of theatre and dance hosted a virtual event with guest speaker André De Shields. De Shields is a three-time Tony award nominee and in 2019, at 73 years old, he won the Tony award for his role of Hermes in “Hadestown.” Throughout a 50-year career De Shields has won an Emmy award, a Grammy award, an Outer Critics Circle Award, the Drama Desk Award and was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 2019, along with a number of other honors.
“Slowly is the fastest way to get to where you want to be” —Andre De Shields
Born in Baltimore, Maryland, De Shields never pursued a formal theatre education. He received a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and went on to earn a Master of Arts in African American Studies from New York University. In 2004, De Shields was gifted an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and SUNY-Buffalo State College. His impressive resume includes “Ain’t Misbehavin,” “Full Monty,” “Illusions,” and “The Wiz,” for which he originated the title role. In De Shields’ early career he choreographed a number of productions for Bette Midler and later moved to incorporate roles for TV. He’s made appearances in “Sex and the City,” “Law & Order SVU,” and most recently as Cubby in “Katy Keane.”
During his talk with the students, De Shields stressed the importance in knowing what you stand for and believing in yourself. In the 90-minute talk and question and answer session, De Shields told stories from his career and explained his personal mantras to help lead to success. He adamantly encouraged all listeners and gave advice on moving to big cities and using rejection and loneliness to your advantage.