Filipino actors and dancers joined hands with other Asian American artists, at the recent Ma-Yi Awards in New York City.
For 28 years, Ma-Yi Theater company has produced original and innovative plays written by Asian American playwrights, and has helped shape the national discourse on what it means to be an Asian American today.
With its Writers Lab program, Ma-Yi has produced award-winning Asian-American writers.
This year’s benefit gala was hosted by two Filipino Americans — model and transgender rights activist Geena Rocero, as well as Broadway and Hollywood actor Paolo Montalban.
“Being in a place where we celebrate where we honor, you know, Asian American storytelling in such an institution like Ma-Yi; it’s such an honor to be here,” said Rocero.
“Ma-Yi has a special place in my heart, because they were my first off-Broadway play ever,” said Montalban. “I did the romance of Magno Rubio with them… if you write for Asian Americans, or for Asian actors, you’re gonna get stories out there… and the Asian actor will come and act those plays.
On its 28th anniversary gala at the Tribeca 360 in lower Manhattan, Ma-Yi — a Drama Desk and Obie award-winning theater company — also honored two outstanding Filipino-American artists.
Elizabeth Roxas-Dobrish is the first Filipina principal dancer at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
A dance teacher at Tisch School of the Arts and a guest faculty at Harvard University in 2010 – she was named one of the 500 most influential Asian Americans by Avenue Dance Magazine in 1997.
The youngest member of the Ballet Philippines, this Manila-born ballerina also danced for the Metropolitan Opera Ballet.
“What did it take for me to succeed? A lot of dance classes, a lot of crying, a lot of heartache,” she said. “Don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t do it. It’s those people that tell you, you can’t do it — that should actually make you even stronger and fight, to say I will make it, and I will make a difference.”
Also recognized at the Mayi Gala were international artist Lolita Savage and husband Frank.
A philanthropist, Lolita is an acclaimed artist presented at the 1999 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in 1999.
Her commitment to the arts is combined with humanitarian causes: she created artistic and educational scholarships for disadvantaged youth.
Lolita says President Trump’s recently foiled plan to cut funding for the arts is a major victory for the art community in America.
“Art is so important… artists will be very helpful in creating a country that is together, that tolerates all kinds of races,” Savage said. “We are this people that embraces everybody with love.”
The US Congress not only turned a blind eye to trump’s proposed draconian cuts to the arts — it allocated $150 million dollars each to the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities – 2 million dollars more than previous years.