Miami theater icon honored with prestigious performing arts prize. Value: $275,000

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For three decades, actor-director-playwright Teo Castellanos has been mentor and catalyst for Miami’s theater scene. Thursday, he also became a 2021 Doris Duke Artist, one of seven to receive a $275,000 prize that is the largest national award to individuals in the performing arts.

Born in Puerto Rico and raised by a single mom in Carol City, Castellanos cleaned up his drink-and-drug habit in his 20s. Since then, he has acted in a wide array of films, TV productions, and theater productions. His work as an artistic director and writer has helped shape Miami’s vibrant theater community and serves as a thought-provoking voice on social issues. He frequently collaborates with playwright-director Tarell Alvin McRaney, whom he once mentored, and Miami Light Project. He leads the ensemble D-company and is artistic director of the Combat Hippies.

Theater director Lileana Blain-Cruz, a resident director at Lincoln Center and recent recipient of a New York Theatre Workshop 2050 Fellowship who lives in Miami and New York, also received the prize. This spring, she will be directing a Broadway revival of Thornton Wilder’s “The Skin of Our Teeth.”

Other awardees announced Thursday were Cynthia Oliver and Dormeshia in contemporary dance and Kris Davis, Danilo Pérez and Wayne Shorter in jazz.

“Art is the antidote to crisis. These exemplary artists demonstrate that a time of unprecedented disruption in the arts and across society cannot stifle the power of great art to persevere,” said Sam Gill, president and CEO of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. “We are proud to support these outstanding creators and accelerate their phenomenal contributions to society.”

Since its inception in 2012, the Doris Duke Artist Awards program has awarded more than $35.4 million in funding to 129 artists.

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