25th Annual ZORA! Festival brings Brooks and Whitfield to Central Florida

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Actors Lynn Whitfield and Avery Brooks to star in dramatic readings at a Red Carpet Event at this year's ZORA! Festival.

"It is fitting that we would commemorate the Silver Anniversary of the ZORA! (TM) Festival with a dramatic tribute to Zora Neale Hurston", said N.Y. Nathiri, Director of Multi-Disciplinary Programs of the Association to Preserve the Eatonville Community.

The ZORA!(TM) Festival celebrates its Silver Anniversary with a production featuring actors Lynn Whitfield and Avery Brooks. They will star in dramatic readings entitled “An Evening with Zora”. Artistic Director Elizabeth Van Dyke who received an AUDELCO award for her portrayal of Zora Neale Hurston, has developed the evening’s format. This will take place at the Auditorium at the UCF Rosen Center of Hospitality Management on Friday January 31 at 8PM. Guests are invited to walk the Red Carpet from 6:45P.M. that evening.

Lynn Whitfield boasts a varied acting background. Whitfield appeared on television in Hill Street Blues, PBS’ American Playhouse Anthology Series and Cagney and Lacey, before working in film. She is known for her roles in the motion pictures “A Thin Line Between Love and Hate”, “Eve’s Bayou”, Madea’s Family Reunion, The Cheetah Girls and The Cheetah Girls 2. Whitfield also received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Actress in a Miniseries or a Special, and an NAACP Image Award for her role as Josephine Baker in the eponymous HBO biopic.

Avery Brooks may be best known for his role as Captain Benjamin Sisko on the science fiction television series Star Trek Deep Space Nine. However Brooks’ past credits include the title role of Paul Robeson in various theatrical productions, and the titular character in the PBS’ American Playhouse production of “Half Slave, Half Free: Solomon Northup’s Odyssey”. He serves as a Professor at Rutgers University, and done extensive work with the Smithsonian Institution’s Program in Black American Culture.

The ZORA! Festival celebrates the life and work of 20th century writer, folklorist and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston; her hometown, Eatonville, the nation’s oldest incorporated African American municipality; and the cultural contributions people of African ancestry have made to the United States and the world. The mission of the Association to Preserve Eatonville Community (P.E.C.) is to enhance the resources of Eatonville, to educate the public about the town’s historic and cultural significance, and to use the community’s heritage and cultural vibrancy for its economic development.

The Presenting Sponsor for ZORA! Festival 2014 is Orange County Government through the Arts & Cultural Affairs Program. Major funding is also provided by these Community Partners: Florida Blue; Harper Collins Publishers, InGlur Inc, TeKontrol Inc., UCF Office of the President, UCF College of Arts & Humanities, the Zora Neale Hurston Institute for Documentary Studies, Visit Orlando and the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc.

The Festival schedule is available online at http://www.zorafestival.org. Information about individual events can also be obtained by following the Festival’s social media profiles on Facebook and Twitter, or by calling 407-647-3307.

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Adrienne Noel
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