(March 1, 2023 - Chicago) — Recognizing a lifetime of theater excellence, the Joseph Jefferson Awards will honor the late arts activist Myrna Salazar at the organization's 49th Anniversary Non-Equity Awards celebration on Monday, March 27, at the Park West.
Salazar was a fierce advocate for equity and representation of Latino artists within the Chicago theater community and served as co-Founder and Executive Director of CLATA (Chicago Latino Theater Alliance). Prior to CLATA, she was the Director of Development and Marketing at the International Latino Cultural Center of Chicago which produces the annual Chicago Latino Film Festival. Active throughout the community, she served on Choose Chicago and League of Chicago Theatres boards and was a member of Mayor Lightfoot's Cultural Advisory Council. During her incredibly prolific time in Chicago, she also founded Destinos, the Chicago International Latino Theater Festival. Destinos is an annual, citywide, LGBTQ+-inclusive festival showcasing Chicago's Latino theater artists and companies alongside top Latino artists from the U.S. and Latin America.
"Salazar was dedicated to building a strong relationship between the Latino theater community and the Jeff Awards," said John Glover, chair of the Jeff Awards. "Her advocacy helped give Latino theaters new opportunities for theater excellence recognition by establishing expanded award categories for foreign language productions with subtitles as well as short run productions."
A Chicago legend, Salazar left a legacy as a Latina trailblazer who shattered glass ceilings throughout her career and advocated for equity and representation of Latino artists in mainstream media and Chicago's live theater stages. She began her career as an Economic Development Specialist at the West Town Economic Development Corporation generating over $10 million in procurement housing and business development from both the private and public sectors. During that time, Myrna completed a two-year fellowship with the National Economic Development Council and was appointed by the then Mayor of Chicago, Jane Byrne, to the Chicago Board of Education where she served for five years.
Salazar was also a marketing and advertising expert. As founder and president of Salazar & Navas Talent Agency Inc., she secured contracts for over 300 professional actors, models, and spokespersons for a client base of 50+ Fortune 500 companies. She boasted with pride of having nurtured and launched TV/film careers for several local working actors on both coasts like Justina Machado, Aimee Garcia, RaÀºl Esparza, and Nadine Velazquez, to mention a few.
Salazar was immortalized on a Chicago stage, and featured in the New York Times, as the inspiration for the character "Myrna," the Queen of Chicago's first Puerto Rican Day Parade, crowned in Chicago's Aragon Ballroom in 1966, in Teatro Vista's 2017 hit musical La Havana Madrid by Chicago theater artist Sandra Delgado.
Over her career, she was the recipient of multiple awards and recognition from many organizations. These include a Sor Juana Award from the National Museum of Mexican Art, as well as recognition from the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, ASPIRA of Illinois, the Latino Fashion Week, and Teatro Vista. In 2019, in Commemoration of Women's History Month, she also received the Outstanding Woman Award for Excellence in Music and Theater Arts from the Honorable Dorothy Brown, former Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County.
The 49th Anniversary Non-Equity Awards celebration will be held Monday, March 27, at the Park West at 7:30pm. The ceremony will be directed by Adrian Abel Azevedo, hosted by Honey West and Mitchell J. Fain, and under the musical direction of Dr. Michael McBride.
General Admission tickets are $65 (includes $50 ticket + required fees) available at www.jeffawards.org . A group rate of $54 (includes $40 ticket + required fees) is available for parties of 10 or more. Information can also be found on social media including Facebook (Jeff Awards), Instagram (@thejeffawards) and Twitter (@josephjefferson).