Veteran actor and theatre performer Obba Babatunde is this generation’s Sammy Davis Jr. He is a renaissance man with a flair for producing great work in film and on the stage.
Generally recognized as one of the most versatile entertainers in the world, Babatunde was given his due when he was honored with the Trailblazer Award during the 21st Annual Beverly Hills/Hollywood NAACP Theatre Awards.
Babatunde, who also won an NAACP Theatre Award as Best Lead Male for his role in “A Soldier’s Play,” has a steep history of wowing audiences and critics with his extraordinary performances. From Dreamgirls to Jelly Last Jam to Chicago and Blues in the Night, Babatunde has been a smoldering presence in live theatre with his distinctive singing, dancing and acting style.
He’s been nominated for a Tony Award. He earned his film stripes when he was given kudos and nominated for an Emmy Award for his character in the television movie Miss Evers Boys. His film credits include John Q, The Manchurian Candidate and Black Dynamite. There aren’t too many things that Babatunde hasn’t mastered on the stage or in film work.
The dashing Babatunde received the NAACP Theatre Trailblazer Award in front of esteemed colleagues such as Loretta Devine, Isaiah Washington, Stacey Dash, Jurnee Smollett, George Wallace, Romeo Miller, Jon Huertas , Jill Marie Jones, Billy Dee Williams and Diahann Carroll in the audience, is reflective of that.
Babatunde was gracious and humbled of the two awards bestowed up on him.
“I am so honored and thrilled,” Babatunde said. “I not only got the Trailblazer Award for, but I’ve also been bestowed the award for best actor in the play, A Soldier’s Play. I am so honored and thrilled that they would so recognize me for my work. It’s just a great night.”
In capturing the Best Male Lead in a stage play, Babatunde had to re-create the role of “Sergeant Waters” which was originally portrayed on stage and in the film, A Soldier’s Story, by the late, great Adolph Caesar. Babatunde said he just tried to follow the path that Caesar created with the role.
“I only hoped to re-enact and to bring and scratch the surface of the great Adolph Caesar’s work,” Babatunde said. “He was brilliant in production.”
Art Evans, who played a major role in “A Soldier’s Story,” said Babatunde is something of a rare jewel in the performing arts.
“When another artist has respect and appreciation for another artist that they have appreciation for is one heck of an artist,” Evans said. “That’s the way you describe Obba Babatunde. He is one heck of an artist. He’s wonderful sense of humor, a good eye. Obba is very acute. He is very, very alert. I can’t say enough about him. He’s such a great guy.”