Carnegie Mellon University
May 28, 2019

Light Illuminates Human Rights Causes

By Heidi Opdyke

Pam Wigley
  • College of Fine Arts
  • 412-268-1047
Jason Maderer
  • Marketing & Communications
  • 412-268-1151

Two-time Tony Award-winner Judith Light will receive this year's Isabelle Stevenson Award for her advocacy to end HIV/AIDS and her support for the LGBTQ+ community. The award is presented annually to a member of the theater community who has made a substantial contribution to humanitarian, social service or charitable organizations.

Light's support of LGBTQ+ and human rights dates back to the 1980s, when she aligned herself with numerous organizations, including Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, GLAAD, NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, Project Angel Food, and the Elton John AIDS Foundation, among many others.

"The HIV/AIDS and LGBTQ+ communities are inspirations and demonstrations of how to be and live in the world; courageous, honorable and uplifting," said Light, a 1970 alumna of Carnegie Mellon University's School of Drama. "They inspire me and it is my privilege to be of service to them."

Light's commitment to each cause has come in various forms throughout the years. In 1993, she spoke at the LGBT March in Washington. In 1995, Light rode her bike from San Francisco to Los Angeles in the California AIDS Ride to support HIV/AIDS Programs for the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center. In 1996 she joined Elizabeth Taylor, who served as grand marshal, at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., for the display of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt.

Light traveled to South Africa for the AIDS walk to raise awareness for on the ground care in South Africa and research in the United States. Countless times, Light has lent her voice at Outfest, the LGBTQ+-oriented film festival in Los Angeles, and she sits on the honorary board of Point Foundation, which is the National LGBTQ+ Scholarship Fund. She has participated in Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS Gypsy of the Year competition and Broadway Bares.

In 1998, GLAAD recognized Light with the Vision Award for her dedication to fight HIV/AIDS alongside the LGBTQ+ community.

Her stage career includes six Broadway productions, with back-to-back Tony Award-winning turns in "Other Desert Cities" in 2012 and "The Assembled Parties" in 2013. She also has been a prominent face on television since the 1970s, with starring roles in ABC's soap opera "One Life to Live," the long-running ABC sitcom "Who's the Boss," the ABC comedy "Ugly Betty" and as Shelly Pfefferman on "Transparent."

Light said the roots of her advocacy began in drama school.

"I had a professor early on who talked about the privilege of what it meant to be in this business. ... "He said 'we are in the service business. You are being of service to people. You are allowing them to come into a theater or to watch a film or a television show, and you are giving them another perspective of who a person might be, and what their life might be like.' Your work is not about your ego — it's about who you're serving, and what's the best way you can serve."

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