East West Players (EWP), the nation’s premier Asian American theatre, celebrates its Golden Anniversary at their Annual Visionary Awards Dinner & Silent Auction. The Visionary Awards laud the achievements of individuals who have raised the visibility of the Asian Pacific American (APA) community through their craft. The fundraising event will take place on Monday April 20, 2015 at the Universal Hilton. Proceeds from the gala will benefit East West Players’ educational and artistic programs.
Jeff Imada has amassed over 400 credits in feature films, TV shows, commercials, and music videos as a 2nd Unit Director, Stunt Coordinator, Fight Choreographer, Technical Advisor, Stuntman, and/or Actor. His most recent work can be seen in Fast and Furious 7. Besides acting, another passion in Jeff’s life is the martial arts. In 1973, he met the legendary Dan Inosanto (Bruce Lee’s protégé and colleague) and has been training with him ever since in numerous styles. Jeff currently holds the rank of Senior Instructor with Inosanto and is one of the few certified instructors in Jeet Kune Do and the Filipino/Indonesian martial arts. I saw Imada last week at the Big Trouble in Little China screening and cast reunion at JANM’s Tateuchi Democracy Forum.
Photos: Traveling through the mouth of the Dragon with BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA’s James Hong, Peter Kwong, Lia Chang, Gerald Okamura, George Cheung, Al Leong, Jeff Imada, James Lew, Gary Goldman, Eric Lee
Confirmed to host the event is actor Parvesh Cheena (TV’s “Outsourced” and “Arrested Development”; “Barbershop” film franchise). “I am excited to be hosting the gala on such a huge anniversary for East West Players,“ Cheena notes. “I’m also thrilled that everyone will be able to get a sneak peek at The Who’s Tommy, that opens in May!”
Including Imada, the 2015 Honorees are:
Receiving the EWP/AARP Real Possibilities Visionary Award is Paula Williams Madison. Madison is Chairman and CEO of Madison Media Management LLC, a Los Angeles based media consultancy company with global reach.
In 2011, Madison retired from NBCUniversal, where she had been Executive Vice President of Diversity as well as a Vice President of the General Electric Company (GE), then the parent company of NBCU. During her 22 years with NBCU, she held a number of successful leadership roles, including President and General Manager of NBC4 Los Angeles, Los Angeles Regional General Manager for NBCU’s Telemundo TV stations and Vice President and News Director of NBC4 New York.
Her career as a journalist led to a 1996 Peabody Award for NBC4 New York’s investigation, “A License to Kill. Madison’s continued dedication to quality journalism helped NBC4 Los Angeles earn numerous Emmy, Golden Mike and Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards.
Madison is the executive producer and subject of Finding Samuel Lowe: From Harlem to China, a compelling documentary that chronicles her journey to her maternal grandfather’s homeland in China and the reconnection of her family with his 300 descendants. HarperCollins will publish a memoir on the journey, Finding Samuel Lowe China, Jamaica, Harlem in April 2015.
“I am deeply humbled that the East West Players and AARP would honor me with their Visionary Award. A few years ago, I retired from the corporate world and focused on bridging a gap to connect with my grandfather’s descendants in China after an almost 100-year separation. This award truly recognizes and celebrates this recent chapter in my life’s story. It characterizes what we Hakka Chinese people say in our Hakka dialect, “Chee Gah Ngin” or “Many Places, One People.”
East West Players also honors Nahnatchka Khan and Melvin Mar. Nahnatchka Khan is the creator for television/Executive Producer and Melvin Mar is Executive Producer for the new comedy Fresh Off the Boat, which airs Tuesdays on ABC and is produced by FOX.
“As a girl with glasses, I take special pride in receiving the Visionary Award from East West Players. It’s truly an honor to be recognized by this great organization,” said showrunner & executive producer Nahnatchka Khan.
Nahnatchka Khan is creator for television and executive producer of Fresh Off the Boat. Prior to that, she was the creator and executive producer of Don’t Trust the B—- In Apartment 23, which aired for two seasons on ABC, from 2011-2012. Before creating her own series, she served as an executive producer on the Fox animated show American Dad.
Melvin Mar began his career at Dreamworks SKG and then at Scott Rudin Productions, where he built a solid relationship with Orange County director Jake Kasdan. They’ve worked together since on The TV Set, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, Bad Teacher,New Girl and Sex Tape. Besides serving as executive producer on Fresh Off the Boat, he is also executive producer for the upcoming Fox series Weird Loners.
“Growing up I had Chinese parents who constantly reminded me how I had to be a doctor to be successful. East West Players represents that a Chinese kid could pursue his dreams in the arts. It’s an honor to be recognized,” said executive producer, Melvin Mar.
Current major sponsors (as of March 18) of the gala include: PLATINUM CIRCLE – AARP, CBS Corporation, Comcast NBC Universal, The Walt Disney Company; SILVER CIRCLE – IW Group, Sony Pictures Entertainment; BRONZE CIRCLE – Tim Dang & Darrel Cummings, HBO, Robert M. Kawahara and Martie Quan, Mattel (3), Sanrio Inc., Lynn Waggoner.
Award-winning composer Nathan Wang (Beijing Olympics/Shaolin Monks, Steven Spielberg’s Oscar Award-winning film The Last Days) will serve as the evening’s Musical Director.
East West Players’ Golden Anniversary Visionary Awards Dinner and Silent Auction will be held on Monday, April 20, 2015 at the Hilton Universal City, 555 Universal Hollywood Drive, Universal City, CA 91608. The VIP Reception for table sponsors will begin at 5pm. No-host reception and silent auction will start at 6pm. The dinner and awards program will start at 7pm. Individual tickets are $200- $1,500. Full table sponsorship packages are also available. For more information on East West Players’ Golden Anniversary Visionary Awards Dinner and Silent Auction, please visit eastwestplayers.org or contact East West Players at (213) 625-7000 or Development Manager Monika Ramnath at email@example.com
Lia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon and Taxman. She has guest starred on “One Life to Live,” “As the World Turns,” and “New York Undercover.” Lia starred as Carole Barbara in Lorey Hayes’ Power Play at the National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, N.C., with Pauletta Pearson Washington and Roscoe Orman. She is profiled in Jade Magazine.
East West Players’ Honors Paula Madison of Madison Media Management LLC and “Fresh Off The Boat” Executive Producers Nahnatchka Khan and Melvin Mar on April 20
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