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The Ensemble Theatre celebrates its 40th uninterrupted season as Houston’s premier African American performing arts institution with its annual celebrity black tie gala: The Ensemble Theatre: Celebrating Forty Years, Saturday, August 20, 2016, 6:30 PM at the Hilton Americas – Houston 1600 Lamar, Houston, TX 77010.
“The Ensemble Theatre has been a premier acting company delivering first rate artistic expression for 40 years. Houstonians are proud of this important milestone and eager to celebrate The Ensemble’s continued enrichment of our community,” says Honorary Chair Janiece Longoria. “This achievement underscores the importance of corporate and individual support of our rich artistic heritage. Continued investment in artistic organizations such as The Ensemble makes Houston a recognized destination for the cultural arts and attracts business.”

Longoria is joined by gala dinner co-chairs Paula McCann-Harris and John Rolfe in hosting this event as The Ensemble Theatre’s largest fundraising endeavor of the year. 
This year’s awards-packed program includes eight honorees:
Louis Gossett, Jr, Lifetime Achievement Award, is an Oscar-winning actor being recognized for his body of work in stage, film, and television since the 1950s, including the 1961 original stage and film version of “A Raisin in the Sun” and the 1982 film “An Officer and a Gentleman.
Angela Robinson, Actress of the Year, is an award-winning Broadway and television actress who has performed in the touring cast of “The Color Purple” with Fantasia, and currently most recognized for her character as the diabolical ice queen Veronica Herrington of Tyler Perry’s “The Haves and Have Nots.”
Harry Lennix, Actor of the Year, is recognized for his ongoing television and film work including his highly noted early acting role in the Robert Townsend and Keenen Ivory Wayans film “The Five Heartbeats,” and most recently in the film “The Man of Steel” and the NBC drama “The Black List.
Anna Maria Horsford, President’s Award, is the television and film actress known for her beloved character Thelma Fry in the 1986-1991 television series “Amen” alongside Sherman Hemsley and Clifton Davis, and a list of accomplishments on and off Broadway in performances including “For Colored Girls who have considered suicide…”, the classic soap “The Guiding Light”, and the TV movie “The Tap Dance Kid.”
C.J. Emmons, Rising Star is a former participant in The Ensemble Theatre Young Performers Program who has established his career in the television and music industry as a vocalist and highly sought after vocal coach who along with his cast of “Dancing with the Stars” received a 2015 Emmy Award nomination for Best Outstanding Reality show program.
Houston First Corporation, Corporate Partner of the Year is recognized for exemplary management of Houston’s convention and performing arts facilities and promoting Houston as a world-class tourism destination.
METRO (Metropolitan Transit Authority), Community Partner of the Year is being honored for as the outstanding regional multimodal transportation system ensuring Houstonians can access businesses, services, and arts & entertainment.
Mildred and Willie Bright, Founder’s Award are one of the families of multi-generational supporters of the theatre including more than 30 years of their own individual commitments to board service, volunteer support, and season ticket subscribers to the theatre.
The celebration continues at The Ensemble Theatre on Sunday, August 21 2:00PM with the community subscriber’s party and “Giorgee Awards,” The Ensemble’s own version of the Tony’s, affectionately named after the theatre’s founder George W. Hawkins. Each year, ballots are sent to audience members to vote, and The Giorgee Awards are presented in recognition of the best actors, designers, and overall productions seen at The Ensemble Theatre the previous year.  
The Ensemble Theatre was founded in 1976 by the late George Hawkins to preserve African American artistic expression and enlighten, entertain and enrich a diverse community. In addition to being the oldest and largest professional African-American theatre in the Southwest, it also holds the distinction of being one of the nation’s largest African-American theatres that owns and operates its facility with an in-house production team. 
The Ensemble Theatre produces a main stage season of contemporary and classic works devoted to the portrayal of the African American experience by local and national playwrights and artists. The theatre’s Performing Arts Education program provides educational workshops, Artist-in-Residence experiences and live performances for students both off-site and at the theatre; and the Young Performers Program offers intensive summer training for children ages six to 17 encompassing instruction in all disciplines of the theatre arts. 

The Ensemble Theatre Celebrates 40 Years & Hosts Celebrity Black Tie Gala  was originally published on