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Playwright Smith wins Gish Prize

NEW YORK – Anna Deavere Smith has won one of the largest and most prestigious awards in the arts.

The committee that awards the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize announced Friday that the actress and playwright is this year’s winner.

“Anna opens our eyes, ears and minds to some of the most challenging aspects of our lives, and in so doing helps give others the courage to do the same,” said Darren Walker, of the Ford Foundation, who was on the selection committee. The prize, from silent film stars Dorothy and Lillian Gish, comes with $300,000.

Smith creates one-woman documentary-style works such as “Fires in the Mirror” about a 1991 riot in New York and “Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992,” about the 1992 Rodney King case. She recently tackled health care in “Let Me Down Easy.”

The Gish Prize, now in its 19th year, recognizes leading artists in such fields as drama, music and dance, as well as literature.

Associated Press

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