Broadway Actress Valisia LeKae Receives Accomplished Alumni Award

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From left: Deborah Welsh, professor and head of the Department of Psychology; Theresa Lee, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences; actress Valisia LeKae; and Calvin MacLean, head of the Department of Theatre and artistic director for the Clarence Brown Theatre.

An award-winning Broadway actress who has starred in numerous roles including her current portrayal of Diana Ross in Motown: The Musical, has received UT’s Accomplished Alumni Award.

University officials honored Valisia LeKae on Friday during the Clarence Brown Theatre season opening celebration at the Orangery.

The Accomplished Alumni Award recognizes notable alumni for their success and distinction within their field. A variety of alumni have been featured through the program, including CEOs of major corporations, Olympians, authors, artists, musicians, US ambassadors, and civic leaders.

LeKae, a 2001 psychology graduate from the College of Arts and Sciences, received a nomination for the 2013 Tony Award for best actress in a leading role for her portrayal of Diana Ross. She’s also garnered other honors for Motown, including a Theatre World Award and nominations from the Drama League and Outer Critics Circle. LeKae previously received a 2010 Joseph Jefferson Award in addition to Black Theatre Alliance and Kevin Line Award nominations.

“As one of our graduates, Valisia’s degree in arts and sciences prepared her with knowledge and skills to succeed in a variety of careers—not necessarily in an area related to her major in psychology,” said Theresa Lee, dean of the college and professor of psychology. “She is a prominent example of how an arts and sciences degree prepares graduates to pursue dreams, seize opportunities, and follow unanticipated career paths to success. We congratulate Valisia on her extraordinary accomplishments so early in her career.”

A native of Memphis, LeKae has appeared in Broadway productions such as The Book of Mormon, The Threepenny Opera, 110 in the Shade, and Ragtime.

Other regional credits include Caroline, or Change; Dreamgirls; Big River; Godspell; and Little Shop of Horrors.

LeKae was featured in the Live at the Lincoln Center production of Camelot, which aired on PBS. She has toured the country in All Shook Up and Mamma Mia! Her television credits include One Life to Live, The 60th Annual Tony Awards, and The View.

PHOTO CAPTION: From left: Deborah Welsh, professor and head of the Department of Psychology; Theresa Lee, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences; actress Valisia LeKae, and Calvin MacLean, head of the Department of Theatre and artistic director for the Clarence Brown Theatre.

CONTACT:

Lola Alapo (865-974-3993, lola.alapo@tennessee.edu)

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