Stephen McKinley Henderson, Chair of the Board, has worked on stages throughout the United States, abroad, on Broadway, off-Broadway, in television and film. He received a Virtuoso Award from the Santa Barbara International Film Festival for his work in August Wilson’s Fences, starring Denzel Washington and Viola Davis; and in the 2010 Broadway revival of Fences, he received a Tony nomination for featured actor. That season he was presented with the Richard Seff Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor from Actor’s Equity Association. His OBIE and Lucille Lortel awards in the outstanding lead actor category are for his work as Pops in Stephen Adley Guirgis’ Pulitzer Prize winning play, Between Riverside and Crazy.
His film work includes performances in six Oscar Nominated films: Denis Villeneuve’s, Dune; Greta Gerwig’s, Lady Bird; Steven Spielberg’s, Lincoln; DenzelWashington’s, Fences, Kenneth Lonergan’s, Manchester by the Sea and Stephen Daldry’s,Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Noteworthy television work includes the FX/HULU series, Devs; Halle Berry’s directorial debut, Bruised for Netflix; HBO’s, The Newsroom; HBO Films’ Everyday People presented at Sundance Film Festival in 2004; and William Duke’s PBS American Playhouse film of A Raisin in the Sun, starring Danny Glover and Esther Rolle.
His six Broadway shows include two Tony winners for best Revival of a Play, A Raisin in the Sun, 2014 and Fences, 2010. His last Broadway appearance was as Torvald in the heralded replacement cast of A Doll’s House Part 2 led by Julie White in 2017. Off-Broadway his roles include Pontius Pilate in the LAByrinth Theatre Company’s production of The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, directed by Phillip Seymour Hoffman. He has been part of several productions at Kennedy Center, most notably as a member of the acting company for Kenny Leon’s historic Century Cycle Readings in 2008.
Stephen delivered the commencement address and was conferred Juilliard’s Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts, May 19, 2017. Nearly 50 years earlier he auditioned for and became a member of Group l, Juilliard Drama Division. John Houseman cited Stephen’s work as a student in his memoir, Final Dress. Stephen completed his conservatory training at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (BFA) where he served as president of the student government. He recently received UNCSA’s Honorary Doctorate when he delivered their 2020/2021 commencement address. During his 30 years as faculty for the Department of Theatre and Dance, State University of New York at Buffalo, he served periods as Head of Performance and Department Chair. He retired Professor emeritus in 2016.
In an eloquent obituary for playwright August Wilson, Michael Feingold of the Village Voice wrote,
“To think of the great characters and scenes in August’s plays is to think of an epic parade of great African American actors who have seized their moment to make theater history: James Earl Jones and Mary Alice in Fences, Charles S. Dutton in Ma Rainey and The Piano Lesson, S. Epatha Merkerson confronting him in the latter, Roscoe Lee Browne sagely ironic in Two Trains Running, Stephen McKinley Henderson oozing malice in Jitney, Ruben Santiago-Hudson and Lisa Gay Hamilton glaring a skyful of weaponry at each other in Gem of the Ocean.”