Every year, New York Stage and Film hosts a gala to celebrate change makers in the industry and raise proceeds to support the organizations ongoing artistic development work. The non-profits offers programming including the annual Hudson Valley-based Summer Season, NYC-bsaed programming, Filmmakers’ Workshop, residencies for individual artist and small companies, awards and fellowships, and other opportunities for artists.
This year’s gala was held on Sunday, November 5th at the iconic Plaza Hotel in Manhattan and was set to honor two LGBTQ activists breaking ground in the entertainment industry; GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis and Emmy, Tony, and Grammy Award winner Billy Porter.
Stars from the stage and screen gathered Sunday night to celebrate these two trailblazers in the industry. Guests included Chuck Cooper, Wilson Cruz, J Harrison Ghee, Nathan Lee Graha, Dominique Jackson, Princess Lockerooo and The Fabulous Waack Dancers, Lenora Nemetz, Mia Pak, Joel Perez, Brian Quijada, Adina Verson, Lillias White, Virgina Woodruff, just to name a few.
The night began with a jaw dropping opening performance from Princess Lockerooo and The Fabulous Waack Dancers with Tyrone Bevans and Shar Adrias. This was followed by a welcome address from President of the Board Barbara Manocherian.
Porter’s decades long career as a singer, actor, producer, writer, and director has provided much needed representation on the stage and screen for Black queer people everywhere. From his Tony Award winning performance as Lola in Broadway’s Kinky Boots, to his Emmy Award winning performance in Pose, to producing the Tony Award winning musical A Strange Loop, to publishing a memoir titled Unprotected, there is truly nothing Billy Porter can’t do. On top of all this, Porter’s album “Black Mona Lisa” is set to debut November 17th!
GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis has dedicated her career to creating space for and fighting to protect the LGBTQ community. Ellis was most recently recognized on the 2023 TIME100 list of 100 most influential people in the world. In her 8 years at GLAAD, Ellis has moderated and participated in panel discussions about LGBTQ issues around the globe at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland. Ellis also launched the GLAAD Media Institute, a team of experts dedicated to behind-the-scenes advising on LGBTQ storytelling across media including film, television, news, gaming, social media, and theater.
The night included a tribute to Ellis, co-curated by GLAAD and NYSAF. There were remarks from Michael Anderson, Jennifer Finney Boylan, David Burtka, Frankie Grande, and Peppermint. This was followed by live performances of “Ring of Keys” from Fun Home by Mia Pak, “If You Are You” from A Transparent Musical by Adina Verson, and “Dance With You” from The Prom by John-Michael Lyles.
The award was then presented by singer-songwriter Melissa Etheridge.
Past recipients to receive this honor from New York Stage and Film have included Tina Fey, Stanley Tucci, Kevin Bacon, Steve Martin, and Laura Linney just to name a few.