ATCA second annual Edward Medina Prize for Excellence in Cultural Criticism awarded to Gloria Oladipo
NEW YORK – The American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA) will award critic and journalist Gloria Oladipo (she/her) the second annual Edward Medina Prize for Excellence in Cultural Criticism at its November 2023 conference in New York.
ATCA created this new award to honor their late colleague and recognize United States theater critics and journalists from historically under-represented groups who write about theater and its role in highlighting people from various cultures, backgrounds, and experiences. The prize is also intended to encourage increased readership of cultural criticism composed by diverse writers and critics from under-represented groups.
“Gloria Oladipo is an absolutely phenomenal, well-varied journalist and critic, and we are thrilled she has been chosen by our esteemed jury to receive the second annual Edward Medina Prize,” said ATCA Chair David John Chávez. “In the spirit of our beloved friend Ed and his legacy, Gloria has proven to be a luminary in our industry, displaying the necessary tenets of journalism with integrity and skill. On behalf of the American Theatre Critics Association, we bestow our deepest congratulations upon Gloria, and cannot wait to witness her career flourish long into the future.”
Gloria Oladipo (she/her) is a New York-based journalist and playwright who hails from Chicago and whose work has appeared in Teen Vogue, the Guardian, Bitch Media, and other publications. She was a 2022 National Critics Institute fellow at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, an opportunity she was selected for via the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Institute for Theatre Journalism and Advocacy. Her plays are often Black comedies about Black women that explore themes of caregiving, mental health and trauma using a mix of realism and absurdism. She is a 2022-2023 Dramatists Guild Foundation Fellow and 2023 Seven Devils Playwrights Conference resident.
“I’m really excited, grateful and surprised,” Oladipo said. “There’s something very affirming to know this prize, in honor of someone who sounds incredible and just so dedicated to making art criticism a better, more inclusive, more thoughtful space, is now something that I’m being recognized for.”
As part of the Edward Medina Prize, Oladipo will receive a cash award, a complimentary annual ATCA membership, and a stipend to help offset costs to attend the November 2023 ATCA conference in New York City. She will receive her award during the 2023 ATCA conference.
In writing for The Guardian, Oladipo covers breaking news alongside arts and culture, namely theater, film, and television.
“While news writing really wants you to live in the black and white, I think that arts writing and playwriting are really about the gray,” she said. “And I find myself trying to embrace the gray more and advocating to live in the gray as news writers when everyone wants a headline that says X equals Y exclamation point.”
The judges who reviewed applications included theater, journalism, and communications professionals. Mashaun Simon (he/him), marketing and public relations manager at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta,was one of them.
“One of the things I appreciate most about the arts, and most specifically the theater, is the way in which it has the ability, the power to inspire, inform, and transform,” Simon said. “Engaging with Gloria Oladipo’s work, I was moved by her writing in the same way I have been moved by some of my favorite theatrical productions. Her work is light and full. Her writing is easy and weighted. There is a knowingness and familiarity in her writing as she speaks, and shares of experiences and perspectives often overlooked by the majority of society. And there is a mission, a purpose, that radiates from the page. She takes this work seriously and sees her role as one of gatekeeper, messenger, and guide. She deserves this honor!”
Other judges were Mirla Criste, performer and professor; Claudia Alick, founder and director of Calling Up Justice; Wei Huan Chen, journalist; Lydia Forte, director and professor of theater at Emory University; Russell Jones III, actor and Ensemble Studio Theatre board member; Alex Meda, director of engagement for the National New Play Network; Yura Sapi, founder of Advancing Arts Forward.
ATCA named the prize in honor of Edward Medina, a proud Nuyorican, whose well-established life within the arts and entertainment industry included work as a recognized and award-winning producer, director, and author. Medina also was a critic and member of the American Theatre Critics Association and served on the Executive Committee, the Membership, and the Belonging, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion committees until his death in 2021. He emphasized the need for increasing diversity within theatrical production and criticism and sought to provide fresh opportunities and support for new critics finding their calling in this vital field. “For those of us who knew Ed and miss him tremendously, we knew his deep passion about the role of critics of color and making sure the next generation has a voice in this industry,” said ATCA Chair Chávez. “He was a tireless advocate, always looking for ways to make everyone around him better.”
Founded in 1974, the American Theatre Critics Association is the only national association of professional theater critics in the United States. ATCA works to foster greater communication among theater critics; provide training and networking opportunities and programs to foster emerging writers; advocate for freedom of expression; maintain ethical standards; respond to the continued evolution of the profession; and increase public awareness of theater criticism as an important national resource. Our members work for newspapers, magazines, radio, television, and online services nationwide.
Read Gloria Oladipo’s work at https://www.gloriaoladipo.com/
Learn more about the American Theatre Critics Association at americantheatrecritics.org/
Learn more about the Medina Prize at americantheatrecritics.org/edward-medina-prize/
Learn more about Edward Medina at EdwardMedina.nyc