“Longtime actress honored: North Side grad among 10 picked for legacy project” by Terri Richardson in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette. Read the full story here.
Susan Lehman never had any doubts about what she wanted to do with her life.
She wanted to be an actress.
It was a dream that so many little girls have, but Lehman was specific in her acting aspirations. She just didn’t want to be any actress, she wanted to be in theater.
“I knew from the get-go that’s what I wanted to do,” Lehman says.
And she never had any doubts that it would happen even when she was young. The Fort Wayne native got her start at Fort Wayne Civic Theatre, but even before that she had roles in children’s theater and would ride her bike to Franke Park to work on theater sets, even if she wasn’t in the show.
It was the start of a 57-year career that has included acting and directing.
The 79-year-old was honored this spring for her work by being among the first group of 10 performers to be included in the Performing Arts Legacy Project by the Research Center for Arts and Culture at the Actors Fund. The legacy project is an online platform to identify and document the work of older artists in an effort to preserve their legacy.
“It’s quite an honor,” Lehman says by phone from her home in New York City, where she has lived since 1962. “I never ever thought as myself as a star. I wanted to work in theater; that’s all I wanted to do.”
She says she asked Joan Jeffri, director of the Research Center for Arts and Culture, why she was chosen. Jeffri replied, “You wanted it more than anybody else.”
“Actors Fund Breaks New Ground on Several Fronts” by Doug Strassler, published in the Summer 2019 edition of Equity News:
The Actors Fund continues to develop programs that foster stability and resilience and provide a safety net over the lifespan of all Equity members. They recently held two events marking progress on initiatives that pay special attention to the needs of older members, while also continuing to develop its Looking Ahead program for professional young performers. …
“Today’s launch is an invitation to our community to visit the site and to tell your friends and colleagues in the industry that they can now begin to document their important contributions to performance and history,” said Kate Shindle, President of Actors’ Equity and Actors Fund Trustee.
“There is now an online space where performers can present their lifetime careers holistically and under their control,” said Traci DiGesu, Manager of Activities and Volunteer Programs at The Actors Fund. “We’re thrilled to add this website to the suite of social services we (l-r): Joan Jeffri, Founder and Director of The Research Center for Arts and Culture; Equity member Len Cariou; Actors’ Equity Executive Director and The Actors Fund Trustee Mary McColl and Equity member André De Shields. provide to seniors who have devoted their lives to entertainment and the performing arts.”
The full issue is available online as a PDF — with this article featured on page 7. Read more …
July 10, 2019
by Caitlin O’Toole
A group of ten inspiring entertainment professionals are celebrating the launch of a groundbreaking new online platform called The Performing Arts Legacy Project (PAL), a partnership between the Research Center for Arts and Culture (RCAC) and The Actors Fund. The site is designed to document, showcase, and represent older performers’ careers so there is a database of their incredible contributions to the world of arts and entertainment.
from NextAvenue by Deborah Quilter:
Picture this: You’re a working actor. You master tricky pratfalls and stunts, memorize reams of lines, sing, dance — and do all of this in front of a live audience eight times a week. Sounds exhilarating, yes? Maybe stressful, too. And if you’re on the road, as Bill Galarno was for a 1962 national tour of The Sound of Music, which played 100 cities in 10 months, it can be exhausting.
Even remembering that experience was exhausting, Galarno recalled. But as challenging as that period of time might have been, Galarno says it was nothing compared to trying to catalog his long legacy of credits using a computer program.
Enter his friend Jamie Baker, who patiently helped Galarno (who describes himself as “technology-mystified”) build his website on a new online platform hosted by the Actors Fund, which has its national headquarters in New York City. After four and half months of opening drawers, shuffling papers and sorting appearances according to decade, Galarno breathed a sigh of relief and can now proudly point people to a link where they can see the trajectory of his 62-year career.
Over the course of ten weeks, Jac Ford and Paige Russo will train Actors and their Fellows to design, produce, and launch their websites implementing the Actor’s own personal vision to represent their lifelong career legacy, which can include, but is not limited to, oral histories, video and audio life reviews, representation of memorabilia (such as programs and photos), and production timelines. The webpage will be an open archival resource to be used to celebrate the legacy of the Actor and will be available to the public for future educational, non-commercial use. Learn more about HB Studio’s partnership with PAL …
“This Exciting New Project Highlights Working Actors Age 62 and Older” by Mark Dundas Wood in Stage Buddy. Read the full article …
If you’re a celebrity actor, the world can easily learn about your life and career. You probably have your own website—and there may even be a fan-site or two out there devoted to you. If you’re a star of the highest magnitude, biographers may have written whole books about your life and craft.
But what of the vast majority of actors—the ones in the trenches, the ones who’ve plied their trade over many decades with little fanfare? Perhaps they’ve gained some measure of acclaim. Or maybe they’ve worked assiduously, trudging to auditions with hope in their hearts, but have just scraped by financially. No matter how diligently they’ve toiled or how much beautiful art they’ve created, they have precious little control over their legacies. Those working in the ephemeral world of theatre, especially, may wonder who, if anyone, will recall them a generation hence.
Fortunately, things will soon be changing, at least for a group of older performers in New York City, thanks to a program called the Performing Arts Legacy Project. It’s an online database that spotlights working actors age 62 and older. The project has been developed under the auspices of The Actors Fund and was spearheaded by veteran arts administrator and educator Joan Jeffri (herself a one-time actor).