Noted actor, producer, and director Blair Underwood has been named the 2002 Artist of the Year by the Harvard Foundation of Harvard University. Underwood will accept the Harvard Foundation award for his “outstanding contributions to American performing arts” in Sanders Theatre during Harvard’s annual Cultural Rhythms festival on Saturday, Feb. 23. The award bears the signatures of Harvard’s President Lawrence H. Summers and Dean of Harvard College Harry R. Lewis. Previous honorees have included Andy Garcia, Will Smith, Matt Damon, Halle Berry, and Jackie Chan.
Underwood made his feature film debut in 1988 in the critically acclaimed “Mystic Pizza.” He expanded his repertoire through TV appearances as a brilliant young lawyer in “L.A. Law,” for which he received a Golden Globe nomination, and most recently in his starring role as a surgeon in Steven Bochco’s groundbreaking series “City of Angels.” Underwood has been lauded for his outstanding performance in the challenging role of a Marine captain in William Friedkin’s “Rules of Engagement” (2000). Also in 2000, People magazine named him one of its “50 Most Beautiful People.” Underwood will star opposite Julia Roberts in Steven Soderbergh’s upcoming, highly anticipated film “Full Frontal.” He will also star in the upcoming independent films “Turnaround” and “G” and has begun work on his feature directorial debut, “My Soul to Keep.”
“We are delighted to welcome Blair Underwood to Harvard to receive Harvard Foundation’s Artist of the Year Award,” said Lewis. “Through his outstanding artistic work in film and television and his notable humanitarian efforts for persons with disabilities, he has presented a fine example for all Americans.”
“Blair Underwood is one of the most brilliant actors in Hollywood today,” said S. Allen Counter, director of the Harvard Foundation. “In addition to his outstanding work as an actor and director, he has advocated for persons with disabilities and has supported parenting initiatives nationally. Blair is an excellent role model for our students of all backgrounds.”