A Performing Arts Legacy Project site



“Behold the Man”

Photo by Lia Chang

In a career spanning forty-seven years, André De Shields has distinguished himself as an unparalleled actor, director, choreographer and educator. Mr. De Shields is an esteemed alumnus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UWM), where in 1970 he earned a BA in English. In May of 2004 the UWM bestowed upon him an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts, followed by a second honorary Doctor of Fine Arts from SUNY-Buffalo State in September of that same year. Mr. De Shields completed his graduate work at New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, where in 1991 he received his MA in African American Studies. His numerous accolades also include the 2007 Village Voice OBIE Award for Sustained Excellence of Performance, the 2009 National Black Theatre Festival’s Living Legend Award, a 2012 Fox Foundation Fellowship in Distinguished Achievement, Florida Atlantic University’s 2014 Making Waves Award, the Theatre School at DePaul University 2015 Award for Excellence in the Arts, the Riant Theatre’s 2016 Pioneer of the Arts Award, three Chicago Joseph Jefferson Awards and nine AUDELCO Awards. 2019 Tony Award winner as Best Featured Actor in A Musical for Hadestown, and a multiple Tony Award nominee, Mr. De Shields is best known for his show stopping performances in six legendary Broadway productions: Impressionism (costarring with Jeremy Irons and Joan Allen-2009); the world premiere of Mark Medoff’s Prymate (Drama Desk nomination-2004); The Full Monty, for which he received Tony, Drama Desk and Astaire Award nominations, in addition to both the Outer Critics Circle and Drama League Award-2001; Play On! (Tony nomination-1997); Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Drama Desk nomination-1978) and The Wiz (title role-1975). In 1982, he won an Emmy for Outstanding Individual Performance for the NBC TV Special based on Ain’t Misbehavin’. Mr. De Shields is the ninth of eleven children born and reared in Baltimore, Maryland.