Inclusion in the Arts, a New York City-based national not-for-profit, announced today that legendary actor James Earl Jones will be the recipient of Inclusion in the Arts’ first-ever Champion of Diversity Award.

The presentation and reception is being hosted by Loreen Arbus (Television Producer, Author, Diversity Activist & President of The Loreen Arbus Foundation) and co-sponsored by The Walt Disney Studios.

Courtney B. Vance, 2013 Tony Award winner for Lucky Guy, will present the award. Mr. Vance appeared with Mr. Jones in the original Broadway production of August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning, Fences.

Mr. Jones, a multi-award winning actor (Tony Awards, Emmy Awards, and Grammy) has been honored with the National Medal of Arts in 1992 and the John F. Kennedy Center Honor in 2002. In 2011 Mr. Jones received an Honorary Oscar in recognition of his long and distinguished career.

In the 1960s, Mr. Jones was one of the first African-American actors to appear regularly in daytime soap operas (playing a doctor in both The Guiding Light and As the World Turns), and made his film debut in 1964 in Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove. In 1969, Mr. Jones won a Tony Award for his breakthrough performance as boxer Jack Johnson in the Broadway hit, The Great White Hope (which also garnered him an Oscar nomination for the 1970 film adaptation). His film credits include Matewan, Field of Dreams and Cry, the Beloved Country. Today, Mr. Jones’ voice is known by people of all ages and walks of life, from Star Wars fans who know him as the voice of Darth Vader to children who know him as Mufasa from Disney’s The Lion King.

“Mr. Jones is a consummate artist who exemplifies excellence without boundaries. His enduring career embodies a passion and commitment that reaches far beyond performance. In an industry that historically has been reluctant to embrace and celebrate diversity, he has served as a pioneer and role model,” says Linda Earle, President, Inclusion in the Arts.

“Throughout his creative life, he has expanded the artistic possibilities of theatre, film and television. In the process, he has opened doors for countless artists of color and forged the path for generations to come,” adds Joanna Merlin, co-founder and Vice President, Inclusion in the Arts.

Inclusion in the Arts is the leading advocate for full diversity of artists of color and performers with disabilities at all levels of production in theatre, film and television. In 2011 Inclusion in the Arts received the Tony Honor for Excellence in the Theatre.

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