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Anna Deavere Smith among winners of arts academy prizes

March 15, 2022 GMT
FILE - Actor-writer Anna Deavere Smith attends a special screening of HBO Films' "Notes From The Field" in New York on Feb. 21, 2018.  Deavere Smith, playwright Adrienne Kennedy and author-essayist Phillip Lopate are among this year’s recipients of career achievement prizes from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)
FILE - Actor-writer Anna Deavere Smith attends a special screening of HBO Films' "Notes From The Field" in New York on Feb. 21, 2018.  Deavere Smith, playwright Adrienne Kennedy and author-essayist Phillip Lopate are among this year’s recipients of career achievement prizes from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)
FILE - Actor-writer Anna Deavere Smith attends a special screening of HBO Films' "Notes From The Field" in New York on Feb. 21, 2018.  Deavere Smith, playwright Adrienne Kennedy and author-essayist Phillip Lopate are among this year’s recipients of career achievement prizes from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)
FILE - Actor-writer Anna Deavere Smith attends a special screening of HBO Films' "Notes From The Field" in New York on Feb. 21, 2018. Deavere Smith, playwright Adrienne Kennedy and author-essayist Phillip Lopate are among this year’s recipients of career achievement prizes from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)
FILE - Actor-writer Anna Deavere Smith attends a special screening of HBO Films' "Notes From The Field" in New York on Feb. 21, 2018. Deavere Smith, playwright Adrienne Kennedy and author-essayist Phillip Lopate are among this year’s recipients of career achievement prizes from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Actor-playwright-educator Anna Deavere Smith, playwright Adrienne Kennedy and author-essayist Phillip Lopate are among this year’s recipients of career achievement prizes from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Lopate, 78, won the $100,000 Christopher Lightfoot Walker Award for contributions to American literature. His books include the essay collections “Bachelorhood” and “Against Joie de Vivre” and the novels “Confessions of Summer” and “The Rug Merchant.” He has also edited such anthologies as “Writing New York” and “The Art of the Personal Essay.”

The academy announced Tuesday that the 90-year-old Kennedy, known for such plays as “Funnyhouse of a Negro” and “Sleep Deprivation Drama,” won its Gold Medal for Drama.

Smith, 71, whose credits range from such one-person stage shows as “Fires in the Mirror” to the TV series “The West Wing” and “Nurse Jackie,” has been given the Medal for Spoken Language.

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Also on Tuesday, the academy gave the Distinguished Service to the Arts award to Edwin Frank, the 61-year-old poet, essayist and founder of the publishing imprint New York Review Books, which releases everything from overlooked literature of the past to contemporary books in translation. The 52-year-old visual artist Kara Walker, whose silhouettes have been exhibited worldwide, received a Gold Medal for Graphic Art.