NBTF celebrity co-chairs revealed

Maraget Avery and Chester Gregory will serve as celebrity co-chairs for the 2019 National Black Theatre Festival.

NBTF celebrity co-chairs revealed
March 07
00:10 2019

During a press conference at the Benton Convention Center earlier this week, Margaret Avery and Chester Gregory were named celebrity co-chairs for the 2019 National Black Theatre Festival (NBTF).

Avery is best known for her performance as Shug in the film “The Color Purple” for which she was nominated for an Academy Award. Although she’s most known for her appearances in films, Avery’s acting career began on the stage. After appearing in stage productions such as “Revolution,” “The Sistuhs,” and “Does a Tiger Wear a Necktie?” in 1972 Avery received the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Performance by an Actress.

After she was introduced as a celebrity co-char for the third time, Avery said what she enjoys most about the festival is how the community comes together every two years to make sure the festival goes over without any hitches. She said, “It feels good to see the community out giving us their support because we know the festival wouldn’t happen without you.

“It just makes my heart smile every time I come and see people giving out brochures and see the women and men driving, you don’t have that kind of support in every city. I’m from Los Angeles and I don’t think we could pull this off in Los Angeles,” Avery said.

When discussing her love for the stage, Avery said after she appeared in the 1985 film “The Color Purple,” a film directed by Steven Spielberg based on the novel written by Alice Walker, she was labeled as a dramatic actor so in order for her to explore other genres, she went back to her roots, the stage. She said while it may be seen as a lost art, it’s wonderful to see so many people supporting the festival and helping preserve a part of African-American culture.

“It’s just wonderful that you’re supporting it. We don’t get the support financially from our government anymore. Most of the community theatres are struggling and we just need you and I want you to know you are important to us.”

Gregory, a native of Gary Indiana, is most known for his performance as the lead in the Chicago Black Ensemble Theatre’s production of The Jackie Wilson Story for which he received rave reviews from critics across the country. Gregory also appeared in the Tony award-winning Broadway musical “Hairspray.”

A graduate of Columbia College, Gregory also starred in the Broadway productions of “Tarzan” and “Cry-Baby.” In 2013 Gregory produced his first production, “The Eve of Jackie,”and that same year the production was selected to headline the NBTF. As he stood before the dozens of fans and festival supporters dressed in customary purple and black attire at the press conference on Monday, March 4, Gregory said he felt like he was back home.

“I’m so excited and honored to be here and share this co-chair position.”

The 2019 National Black Theatre Festival is scheduled to begin on Monday, July 29, and end on Saturday, Aug. 3. Hosted bi-annually by the North Carolina Black Repertory Company (NCBRC), the festival will feature theatrical performances, poetry, live music, a film festival, workshops, vendor fairs and much more.

For more information on the NBTF visit

About Author

Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

Related Articles


Featured Sponsor

Receive Chronicle Updates

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.



More Sponsors