Tony Award-winning actress, singer and stage director Phylicia Rashad, a household name as a result of her role as Clair Huxtable on the NBC sitcom “The Cosby Show,” spoke at Shenandoah University’s Harry F. Byrd, Jr. School of Business at 5 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 25, 2016 in Halpin-Harrison Hall, Stimpson Auditorium, on the campus of Shenandoah University.
Rashad, who appears in “Creed,” the most recent installment of the “Rocky” film series in theatres now, presented “The Business of Show Business,” discussing the business issues related to being a performing artist. A question and answer session followed.
“We are honored to have an outstanding talent and human being like Ms. Rashad come speak at the Harry F. Byrd, Jr. School of Business,” said the business school’s dean, Miles Davis, Ph.D. “In the fall of this year, the business school will launch a major in arts, entertainment and media management, so this is a wonderful opportunity for our students to hear a presentation in which Ms. Rashad touches upon the types of issues associated with the business side of the entertainment world.”
One of the entertainment world’s most extraordinary performing artists, Rashad has brought laughter to millions of television viewers around the world, moved theatre goers to tears, thrilled movie fans, offered new insights to students through masterclasses at renowned learning institutions, served on boards of prestigious organizations and broken new ground as a director.
A versatile performer, Rashad’s portrayal as Clair Huxtable earned her numerous honors and awards for more than two decades. She teamed up with Bill Cosby in later years on television as Ruth Lucas on CBS’s “Cosby.”
While television was a catalyst in the rise of Rashad’s career, she has also been a force on the stage, appearing both on and off-Broadway, often in projects that showcase her musical talent such as “Jelly’s Last Jam,” “Into The Woods,” “Dreamgirls” and “The Wiz.”
As a dramatic actress, Rashad has performed on Broadway as Violet Weston in “August Osage County,” Big Mama in Tennessee Williams’ “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” (a role that she reprised on the London Stage), Aunt Ester in August Wilson’s “Gem Of The Ocean” (Tony Award nomination) and Queen Britannia in Shakespeare’s “Cymbeline” at Lincoln Center.
Rashad received both the Drama Desk and the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her riveting performance as Lena Younger in the Broadway revival of Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin In The Sun.”
She appeared on screen in Tyler Perry’s “Good Deeds” (2012) and “For Colored Girls” (2010), the highly acclaimed film version of Ntozake Shange’s “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Enuf.” Most recently she appeared in “Creed,” the seventh Rocky film, portraying the mother of Adonis Johnson Creed (Michael B. Jordan), Apollo’s son, with Sylvester Stallone reprising the role of Rocky Balboa.
She made her directorial debut in 2007 at the Seattle Repertory Theater with August Wilson’s “Gem of the Ocean.” She was at the helm of The Ebony Repertory Theatre’s production of “A Raisin in the Sun” in the Spring of 2011, and Rashad remounted the production at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Los Angeles and at the Westport County Playhouse in Westport, Connecticut. Rashad has also directed Wilson’s “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone” at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles (2014 NAACP Theatre Award for Best Director) and “Fences” at the Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut, and the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, New Jersey. In 2015, she returned to the Mark Taper Forum to direct Paul Oakley Stovall’s “Immediate Family.”
Respected in the academic world, Rashad is the first recipient of the Denzel Washington Chair in Theatre at Fordham University. Rashad recently conducted masterclasses at the prestigious Ten Chimneys Foundation in Wisconsin for the 2015 Lunt Fontanne Fellows.
In 2015, Rashad received the BET Honors Theatrical Arts Award, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre’s Spirit of Shakespeare Award, and the inaugural Legacy Award of the Ruben Santiago Hudson Fine Arts Learning Center in Lackawanna, New York. Among the other awards that decorate her walls and shelves are the 2014 Mosaic Woman Legend Award of Diversity Woman Magazine, the Texas Medal of Arts, the National Council of Negro Women’s Dorothy L. Height Dreammaker Award, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists’ AMEE Award for Excellence in Entertainment, the Board of Directors of New York Women in Film and Television’s Muse Award for Outstanding Vision and Achievement, Dallas Women in Film Topaz Award, People’s Choice Awards, several NAACP Image Awards and the Pan African Film Festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Rashad serves on the advisory board of the PRASAD Project and the board of directors of True Colors Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia; Broadway Inspirational Voices; The Actors Center; the Center for African American Studies at Princeton University, and the ADEPT Center, which is steering the restoration of the historic Brainerd Institute in Chester, South Carolina.
A native of Houston, Texas, Rashad graduated magna cum laude from Howard University in Washington, D.C. She holds honorary doctorates from Barber Scotia College, Brown University, Carnegie Mellon University, Clark Atlanta University, Fordham University, Howard University, Morris Brown College, Providence College, Spelman College and St. Augustine College. Rashad is the mother of two adult children.