Endless Applause for Lives of Achievement

Marshall Herskovitz
Photo by Elisabeth Caren
Marshall Herskovitz

Two Brandeis denizens of the entertainment world — actress Loretta Devine, M.F.A.’76, and producer-director-writer Marshall Herskovitz ’73 — were recently celebrated for long careers of distinction.

Devine, a versatile performer known for her giant eyes, high-pitched voice and baby-doll cheeks, received a Lifetime Achievement Award during the Africa Channel’s “A Night of Tribute,” held Feb. 10. The program, part of the Pan African Film Festival, featured a video chronicle of the Houston native’s remarkable career, which has included nearly 100 roles on the stage and screen.

Among the highlights of Devine’s film work are the roles of Gloria in “Waiting to Exhale” (1995), Juanita in “For Colored Girls” (2010) and Pam in “Jumping the Broom” (2011). On Broadway, she took center stage as Lorrell (the counterpart of Supremes singer Mary Wilson) in the original 1981 cast of the musical “Dreamgirls,” and in the television arena she appeared in such series as “Boston Public,” “Eli Stone” and “Grey’s Anatomy.” For the recurring role of Adele Webber in the latter, she won an Emmy as outstanding guest actress in a drama in September 2011.

A co-creator of “thirtysomething” and “My So-Called Life,” among other hit shows, Herskovitz was honored alongside his writing partner, Ed Zwick, with the 2012 Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award for Television from the Writers Guild of America, West. The prize was given during a Feb. 19 ceremony at the Hollywood Palladium.

In presenting the award, guild president Christopher Keyser credited Herskovitz and Zwick, nine-time Emmy Award nominees, with revolutionizing TV drama beginning in the 1980s. “So much of what is on television today,” Keyser said, “is a direct or indirect descendant of their seminal work, ‘thirtysomething.’ So many writers of this generation were drawn to television because of what Marshall and Ed told us, in that show and then in show after show, it was possible to do — to write stories about real people, with honest and compelling emotional stakes, about what it feels like to be alive.”