Photo from East West Players of Hannah and the Dread Gazebo
The nation’s largest Asian American theater this week pulled out of the Los Angeles Stage Alliance in protest, saying they were rendered invisible at the Ovation Awards.
When actress Jully Lee’s received recognition for her performance in Hannah and the Dread Gazebo, not only did the presenter mispronounce her name, but the Ovation Awards mistakenly used a picture of another Asian American actress.
“Two different people who look nothing alike,” Lee said to Spectrum News.
“It felt like a big slap in the face,” Lee said, fighting tears. “It’s really hard to get recognized for Asian American excellence, so those few moments when it happens, it was very painful to see it blundered like that.”
On top of that, the theater company said it received not a mention despite producing the play in partnership with the Fountain Theatre.
It also didn’t receive recognition in any of the nominations for Lauren Yee’s The Great Leap, despite co-producing it with The Pasadena Playhouse.
“They have stood behind an embarrassingly outdated policy of only recognizing one theater per production – a patently false assertion and an exclusionary situation that they have set up,” wrote the East West Players on Facebook.
“Every time East West Players co-produces in an effort to bring Asian American actors more visibility in LA theatres, the other predominantly white organization is solely listed and uplifted. This is what erasure of our work and our community looks like. To the Ovation Awards and LA Stage Alliance we do not exist nor does our artistic voice matter.”
The group’s decision to pull out of the Alliance has received support with numerous other group also withdrawing in solidarity.
The LA Stage Alliance issued a public apology:
“LA Stage Alliance sincerely apologizes to Jully Lee who was nominated for Featured Actress in a Play for “Hannah and the Dread Gazebo” at the Fountain Theatre co-produced by East West Players, and to our Asian American and Pacific Islander community for the error that was made during the award ceremony. There is NO excuse for mispronouncing Ms. Lee’s first name nor for the error in the image used. We take full responsibility for the oversight and we deeply regret any harm this may have caused. We will continue to take appropriate steps to correct this issue.”
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