L.A. Stage Alliance Shuts Down After Misidentifying Asian Actress at Ovation Awards

Antonio Ferme
·2-min read

The Los Angeles Stage Alliance, the 46-year-old nonprofit that holds the Ovation Awards, has shut down after misidentifying an Asian nominee, prompting more than two dozen local theaters to withdraw their membership.

The theaters, including the Geffen Playhouse, the Pasadena Playhouse and the Deaf West Theatre, revoked their memberships after multiple representational errors took place during the virtual 2021 Ovation Awards on March 30.

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“Our intention has always been to represent and promote the entire Los Angeles theatre community, but at this time we are unable to continue,” the organization said in a statement. “For the past 46 years, LASA has worked to acknowledge, support, and celebrate artists and theatres from all communities. We believe in equity, diversity, and inclusion at all levels. As individuals, we are committed to continuing our support of this community which we hold so dear. We wish the entire theatre community and its stakeholders continued success.”

Asian actress Jully Lee, who was nominated for her performance in Jiehae Park’s “Hannah and the Dread Gazebo,” had her first name mispronounced while the nominees for best featured actress were read. Additionally, a photo of a different Asian actress was mistakenly displayed on screen. East West Players, who served as a co-producer on many productions including “Hannah and the Dread Gazebo,” was not named during the awards, prompting the group to leave the LA Stage Alliance the following day.

“The mispronouncing of our names combined with the sentiment that all Asians look alike is not new,” the organization said in a statement posted on Instagram.” However it particularly stings when the evening is supposed to be about raising the visibility of LA’s theater community and celebrating our artists.”

The L.A. Stage Alliance initially issued a plan of action on March 31 in response to its mistakes but came to the unanimous conclusion to cease all operations.

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