Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Two-time Tony Nominee André De Shields and Ambassador Mathilde Mukantabana featured in Celebrate Rwanda! Event at The SUNY Global Center on June 29

André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang

André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang

The State University of New York today is celebrating its developing partnership with Rwanda through “Celebrate Rwanda” event on Wednesday, June 29, 2016, from 5:30-8:00pm, at The SUNY Global Center, 116 East 55th Street, New York, NY 10022. The event is sponsored by The Jewish Foundation for Education of Women (JFEW) SUNY Program and SUNY Buffalo State’s Anne Frank Project. Members of the public are invited to attend.

Keynote speaker is Ambassador Mathilde Mukantabana of the Republic of Rwanda. The event also includes a panel discussion with President Katharine S. Conway-Turner, SUNY Buffalo State; Sally Crimmins Villela, SUNY Assistant Vice Chancellor for Global affairs; and, United Nations delegates about Rwanda’s journey towards economic, social and global development. Broadway legend André De Shields, a two-time Tony nominee and Emmy winner, will perform.

Registration starts at 5:30 pm. Program begins promptly at 6:00 pm.

Ambassador Mathilde Mukantabana

Ambassador Mathilde Mukantabana

Ambassador Mathilde Mukantabana is the Ambassador of the Republic of Rwanda to the United States of America. Prior to her appointment, she was a Professor at Cosumnes River College. She is the co-founder and President of Friends of Rwanda Association (FORA), a non-profit American relief association created in the wake of the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi in Rwanda. Since its inception, FORA’s dual purpose has been to expand the circle of friends of Rwanda and to support survivors of the 1994 Genocide through a variety of initiatives and relief efforts. In addition, under the aegis of United Nations for Development Programs, Ambassador Mukantabana started the academic program of Social Work at the National University of Rwanda, and taught as an Invited Lecturer. Ambassador Mukantabana holds a Bachelor’s degree in History and Geography from the University of Burundi as well as Master’s degrees in Social Work, and History from California State University.

In a career spanning forty-seven years, André De Shields has distinguished himself as an unparalleled actor, director, choreographer and educator. He presented his critically acclaimed solo performance as Fredrick Douglass at the 2014 Anne Frank Project Conference. Mr. De Shields was honored with a Doctor of Fines Arts from SUNY-Buffalo State in 2004. He is the recipient of three Jeff Awards, one as Director for Victory Gardens’ 1987 production of The Colored Museum, and two as Featured Performer in a Musical for the Goodman Theatre productions of Play On! (1998) and Mary Zimmerman’s The Jungle Book (2013).  Mr. De Shields professional career began at Chicago’s Shubert Theatre, now the Bank of America Theatre, in the 1969 production of Hair.  From there he moved on to The Me Nobody Knows at the Civic Opera House, and ultimately became a member of The Organic Theatre Company, where he created the role of Xander the Unconquerable, Ruler of the Sixth Dimension in the cult sensation Warp. A multiple Tony Award nominee, he is best known for his show-stopping performances in four legendary Broadway musicals: The Wiz, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Play On! and The Full Monty. Recent projects include creating the role of Ron in the Broadway bound musical Gotta Dance at the Bank or America Theatre in Chicago and  appearing as Cardinal Gremio, Curtis and Vincentio in the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s production of The Taming of the Shrew featuring an all-male cast. Mr. De Shields is set forWOZ: A Rock Cabaret,” at Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave. in Chicago, from July 14 – 17, 2016. His numerous accolades include an Emmy Award for the NBC Special based on Ain’t Misbehavin’, the National Black Theatre Festival’s Living Legend Award, the Village Voice OBIE Award for Sustained Excellence of Performance, a 2015 Award for Excellence in Theatre from the Theatre School at DePaul University, and two Doctor of Fine Arts degrees honoris causa one each from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the State University of New York-College at Buffalo. A triple Capricorn, Mr. De Shields is the ninth of eleven children born and reared in Baltimore, Maryland. Ubuntu. (I am because you are.)

About the State University of New York

The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, with 64 college and university campuses located within 30 miles of every home, school and business in the state. In 2014-15, SUNY served nearly 1.3 million students, including nearly 600,000 in credit bearing courses and programs and nearly 700,000 through continuing education and community outreach programs. SUNY students and faculty across the state make significant contributions to research and discovery, resulting in nearly $1 billion of externally-sponsored activity each year. There are 3 million SUNY alumni worldwide and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree are SUNY alumni. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunity, visit

STC’s THE TAMING OF THE SHREW Opening Night with André De Shields, Maulik Pancholy, Telly Leung, Oliver Thornton and More

Photos: Santino Fontana, André De Shields, John Larroquette, Nikki Renée Daniels, Bryce Pinkham, John Behlmann, Christiane Noll and More in New York City Center’s Encores! 1776 

Closing Night Party of Encores! 1776 with André De Shields, Santino Fontana, John Larroquette, Nikki Renée Daniels, Bryce Pinkham, Ann Harada at New York City Center 

Click here for more articles on André De Shields.

Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers,  musicians and corporations. Lia is also an internationally published and exhibited photographer, a multi-platform journalist, and a publicist. 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, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Examiner.comJade Magazine and

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