The Pan African Film Festival announced that, award-winning actor/director Charles Dutton will be honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the festival’s annual night of tribute awards ceremony. For the second year, the Night of Tribute will be part of the pre-show festivities for the awards ceremony of the African-American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) on Friday, January 31, 2014, beginning at 7 p.m. at the Taglyan Complex, located at 1201 Vine Street in Hollywood, Calif.
Dutton is a two-time Tony-nominated and multiple Emmy award-winning actor and director of stage, television and film. He was made noticeable in the screens with his character as the Baltimore garbage collector, Roc Emerson, on the popular Fox comedy “Roc,” which aired for three seasons from 1991 to 1994. The character also earned him his NAACP Image Award ,followed by two more wins in 2002 and 2003 for his roles in the television movies, “10,000 Black Men Named George” and “D.C Sniper:23 Days of Fear,” respectively.
Dutton, who is a native of Baltimore, made his debut in 1984 with August Wilson’s “MA Rainey’s Black Bottom” winning him a Theater World Award and a Best Actor Tony Award nomination. Six years later, he received another Tony Award nod for Best Actor in August Wilson’s “The Piano Lesson” before heading off to Hollywood, landing more television roles and collecting acting accolades along the way.
In 1999, Dutton received both Emmy and NAACP Image award nominations for his guest-starring role as Alvah Case on the HBO hit prison drama, “OZ” after his huge success a year later, he directed the critically-acclaimed and gritty HBO miniseries, “The Corner” which won several Emmys, including Outstanding Miniseries and Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries or a Movie. Dutton was awarded an Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special. As the Yale-trained actor continued to show the range of his acting abilities, the nominations and awards just kept on coming. He won back-to-back Emmy Awards in 2002 and 2003 for Outstanding Guest Actor for his roles in “The Practice” and “Without a trace,” respectively.
Ayuko Babu, executive director of the Pan African Film Festival mentioned:“Charles Dutton is a tour de force to be reckoned with whether he’s on stage or the screen — big or small Through his craft, he’s a chameleon and a master storyteller. With an authoritative, booming voice, he brings a larger-than-life presence to all his roles, captivating audiences and delivering riveting performances each and every time.”
“I used to be a hardcore, hard-hearted guy. Once you make the decision to change, all kinds of things happen.”
– Charles Dutton
Interestingly, before Dutton’s success in the film line, he was a juvenile, in and out of reform school and correctional facilities, since the age of 12. By time he was 26, Dutton had spent roughly 12 years of his life in a penitentiary for back-to-back convictions.
It was in prison, Dutton found his passion for acting and directing. Several months into his second prison term, Dutton was sent to solitary confinement. However, he was allowed one book, and by accident, grabbed an anthology of black playwrights. While in confinement, he enjoyed the plays so much that upon his release, he petitioned the warden to form a drama group. The warden agreed on the condition that Dutton finish his education and get his GED.
Dutton not only completed his studies, but also earned a two-year college degree in 1976, the same year he was paroled. After serving his time, the ex-con enrolled as a drama major at Towson State University and went on to earn a master’s degree in acting from the prestigious Yale School of Drama.
In PAFF’s “Conversation With …” series, Dutton will share his inspirational story with straight talk and humor in a show titled, “From Jail to Yale: Serving Time on Stage.”