Actors’ Equity member Arthur French was awarded the 2015 Paul Robeson Award, presented by the Actor's Equity Foundation on October 16, 2015 in New York City.
“I remember how I got my Equity card,” French said. “During my first show, Raisin’ Hell to the Son, the guy said to me, ‘You have to join Equity.’ I walked down every block and looked at the marquees. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. But when he said that, ‘you have to sign a contract,’ it was clear for me. I knew then, that this is where I wanted to be. Equity’s been good to me. I’m so happy to be here among so many members.”
French has been a working actor for more than 50 years, from his early work with the Negro Ensemble Company to his most recent appearance on Broadway in The Trip to Bountiful (2013). For his extensive body of work Off-Broadway, he received an Obie Award for “Sustained Excellence” in 1997. In 2006, he received the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Featured Actor in August Wilson’s Two Trains Running. He’s also appeared in productions of Dividing the Estate, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, You Can’t Take It With You, Death of a Salesman, The River Niger, The Iceman Cometh and Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death, among others.
In addition, he has worked on the road, been on the faculty of HB Studios, and has volunteered at senior centers.
Arthur French and Julia Breanetta-Simpson
Credit: Stephanie Masucci