Brittani Samuel winner of inaugural Edward Medina Prize
NEW YORK—The American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA) has named critic and journalist Brittani Samuel to receive the inaugural Edward Medina Prize for Excellence in Cultural Criticism at its November 2022 conference in New York.
ATCA created this new award to recognize theater critics and journalists in the United States from under-represented groups who write about theater and its role in highlighting people from various cultures, backgrounds and experiences. The prize also is intended to encourage increased readership of cultural criticism composed by diverse writers and critics from under-represented groups.
“Brittani is a dynamic New York City-based writer who has collected an impressive collection of regional and national bylines,” says ATCA Chair David John Chávez. “Her work has critically captured a plethora of topics from trends in the American theater movement to touchstones of popular culture.”
Brittani Samuel (she/her) is a Caribbean-American arts journalist, theater critic, and co-editor of 3Views on Theater. Her work has appeared in American Theatre Magazine, Broadway News, Glamour, Observer, Vice, Zora, and several other outlets. She is an alumna of the BIPOC Critics Lab and the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s National Critics Institute.
“Wow. I’m floored,” Samuel says. “I’m very honored to be selected for this inaugural award in reverence of such a special human being.”
As part of the Edward Medina Prize, Samuel will receive a cash award, a complimentary annual ATCA membership and travel and accommodation costs for the November 2022 ATCA conference in New York City. She will receive her award during the ATCA conference.
The judges who reviewed applications included theater, journalism and communications professionals. Actor and equity consultant Russell G. Jones was one of them.
“Reviewing Brittani’s application, it was clear to me that she loves the theater despite being able to identify systemic and longstanding problems in it,” Jones says. “I was really impressed by her piece on Claudia Rankine’s play “Help” at The Shed, and I am excited that ATCA is supporting her voice.”
Another judge, Yura Sapi, adds, “Brittani demonstrates a great use of personal voice that cultivates an honest and welcoming energy to readers,” says Sapi, who founded Advancing Arts Forward. “As we reviewed submissions for the Medina Prize, we looked for writers whose unique voice has the potential to lead to large-scale transformation in the theater and theater criticism industries.”
Among the other judges were Wei Huan Chen, journalist; Mirla Criste, performer and professor at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington; actor and Ensemble Studio Theatre board member; Jiles King, editor of Urban Arts Magazine; Lynde Rosario, director of engagement for the National New Play Network; and Jay Woods, director and associate artistic director of 5th Ave. Theater in Seattle.
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 and the Membership and 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.
There is not a day that goes by where we do not miss our friend and colleague,” Chávez says. “Ed cared deeply for the next generation of critics, and I am certain he would be very proud and humbled to see how this organization has worked tirelessly to craft a substantial award in his honor.”
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 across the country.
Read Brittani Samuel’s work at BrittaniSamuel.com. Instagram: @brittaniidiannee
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