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Home | ArtMakers | André De Shields
Color: Red
Food: Lima Beans
Quote: The Top Of One Mountain Is The Bottom Of The Next, So Keep Climbing.
Season: Winter
Vacation Destination: Port Antonio, Jamaica
Dundalk, Maryland
Interview Description:

Biography |

Interview Date: 9/19/2016 |and| 9/22/2016

Actor, stage director, and choreographer André De Shields was born on January 12, 1946 in Dundalk, Maryland. He is the ninth of eleven children and grew up in Baltimore, Maryland. De Shields is an alumnus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he earned his B.A. in English in 1970. In 1991, he received his M.A. in African American Studies from New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study.

De Shields began his professional career in 1969 at Chicago’s Shubert Theatre in Tom O’Horgan’s production of Hair, The American Tribal-Love Rock Musical. In 1971, De Shields joined the Organic Theater Company and began performing in Wrap! in Chicago. In 1973, De Shields left the Organic Theater Company and was an associate choreographer for Bette Midler’s Clams on the Half Shell Revue the following year. In the late 1970s, De Shields began choreographing for Saturday Night Live and Sesame Street. He then went on to perform in many televised productions, including Ain’t Misbehavin’ (1982), Alice in Wonderland (1983), and Duke Ellington, The Music Lives On (1984). De Shields continued his work while holding professor positions at New York University, Southern Methodist University, and the University of Michigan. In 2009, in honor of Barack Obama’s historic rise to the presidency of the United States of America, Mr. De Shields created his solo performance,Frederick Douglass: Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory.

De Shields has won numerous awards for his work. He has won three Chicago Joseph Jefferson Awards and nine AUDELCO Awards. In 1982, De Shields won an Emmy for Outstanding Individual Performance for the NBC TV Special based on Ain’t Misbehavin’. In May of 2004 the UWM bestowed upon him an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts, followed by a second honorary Doctor of Fine Arts from SUNY-Buffalo State later that same year. His numerous accolades also include the 2007 Village Voice OBIE Award for Sustained Excellence of Performance, the 2009 National Black Theatre Festival’s Living Legend Award, a 2012 Fox Foundation Fellowship in Distinguished Achievement, Florida Atlantic University’s 2014 Making Waves Award, the Theatre School at DePaul University 2015 Award for Excellence in the Arts, and the Riant Theatre’s 2016 Pioneer of the Arts Award.

De Shields lives in New York, New York.

André De Shields was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on September 19, 2016.

Speaker Bureau Notes: