The Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department warmly congratulates Columbia College Chicago alum Tonya Pinkins ’96 — Tony Award-winning star of such Broadway musicals as Caroline, or Change and Jelly’s Last Jam — on her appointment as the Denzel Washington Chair of Theatre at Fordham College at Lincoln Center in New York City starting in the fall of 2023. The news was announced by Fordham on July 20, 2023.
As previously reported in this blog, Tonya Pinkins is a native of Chicago’s South Side. As a student at Chicago’s Whitney Young Magnet High School, she participated in the theatre program and also studied acting at the Goodman Theatre’s youth program. She studied Musical Theatre at Carnegie Mellon University and later studied Creative Writing at Columbia College. Besides Caroline, or Change and Jelly’s Last Jam, her Broadway credits include the original production of Stephen Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along, the Duke Ellington jukebox musical Play On! (in which she also starred at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre), and August Wilson’s Radio Golf. Off-Broadway she has starred in several productions at the prestigious Public Theatre, including the pre-Broadway run of Caroline, or Change and a 2022 production of Lorraine Hansberry’s classic American drama A Raisin in the Sun. Her TV credits include the role of Livia Frye on the soap opera All My Children. She is also a filmmaker, whose debut feature film Red Pill was an official selection at the 2021 Pan African Film Festival and won awards for Best Black Lives Matter Feature and Best First Feature at the Mykonos International Film Festival.
“We are so honored and excited to have the incomparable visionary artist Tonya Pinkins at Fordham Theatre. Her presence will have a transformational impact on the program and within Fordham University,” said May Adrales, director of the Fordham Theatre program.
The endowed chair in Theatre at Fordham College at Lincoln Center was established in 2011 by Oscar-winning actor Denzel Washington, a Fordham College alum. Past chairs include Golden Globe-winning actress and Columbia College honorary degree recipient Regina Taylor HDR ’11.