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Maryland educator and Broadway alum CJay Philip will receive the Tonys’ 2024 Excellence in Theatre Education Award

Philip runs Dance & Bmore in Baltimore, Maryland.

CJay Philip (Credit: Courtesy of the Tony Awards)

The Tony Awards has named Maryland educator CJay Philip as the winner of the 2024 Excellence in Theatre Education Award. Presented by the Tony Awards and Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), the award honors the achievement and impact of a K-12 theater educator in the U.S.

Philip is the founder and creative director of Dance & Bmore theater programs in Baltimore, Maryland. Dance & Bmore aims to create “human connections, multigenerational connections and creative connections through music and dance” to enhance their social and emotional well-being. Dance & Bmore’s programs develop artists’ proficiencies both onstage and off. 

“CJay actively works to remove barriers and create an inclusive environment in all Dance & Bmore’s theater programs,” said Lauren Erazo, Dance & Bmore’s director of operations, who submitted Philip’s recommendation for the award.

Through partnerships with local youth organizations, Dance & Bmore strives to ensure that young artists, regardless of background or circumstance, have equal access and opportunity to its programs. 

“Theater is made in many ways, by many people,” Philip said. “That’s why we focus on helping young people learn about the many different aspects of working in the theater. Exposure to the theater and theater arts improves everyone’s quality of life.”

Prior to founding Dance & Bmore in 2010, Philip worked as a performer and stage manager on the Main Stem. Philip appeared in the ensemble of 1996’s “Big,” served as assistant stage manager and an understudy in 1997’s “Street Corner Symphony” and a swing in 2002’s “Hairspray.” On the road, she performed in tours of “Hairspray” and “Legally Blonde.”

The annual award is selected by a panel of theater experts from the American Theatre Wing and the Broadway League, co-presenters of the Tony Awards, as well as experts from CMU.

“We are thrilled to honor CJay Philip with the Excellence in Theatre Education Award,” said Jason Laks, interim president of the Broadway League, and Heather Hitchens, president and CEO of the American Theatre Wing, in a joint statement. “Her unwavering dedication to providing her students with a safe space to foster their knowledge of theater and build their confidence, while actively creating inclusive and accessible roles and programs, has instilled a passion and respect for the performing arts in the generations to come.” 

“CJay’s dedication to nurturing future generations of performers, creators and art enthusiasts is extraordinary,” added Farnam Jahanian, CMU president. “Carnegie Mellon University is grateful to help elevate her story for the world to enjoy and thrilled to celebrate CJay and her enduring contributions as an arts educator, advocate and performer."

The award comes with a $10,000 prize for Dance & Bmore, as well as a visiting master class from CMU drama professors. 

Philip will be honored at the June 16 Tony Awards ceremony, which will air live on CBS and Paramount+ from the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center at 8 p.m. ET.