Wendell Pierce – 1981 Scholar

Acclaimed actor/producer on TV, in film and on the stage; the host of NPR’s “Jazz at Lincoln Center”; author of "The Wind in the Reeds"; and rebuilder of his native New Orleans. Wendell Pierce is all of these things, and a Presidential Scholar who also served as advisor to later Presidential Scholars during National Recognition Week in 1982 and 1983. A graduate of the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts and the Juilliard Drama School, Pierce has made a lasting mark as an actor through his roles in the legendary HBO dramatic series “The Wire” and more recently “Treme.” His film credits include the Oscar winner Ray. His portrayal of Vladimir in a production of Waiting for Godot, set in Katrina-ravaged New Orleans, earned rave reviews internationally. Pierce has been twice nominated for the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, and was the winner of the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a television movie, mini-series or dramatic special. He is also the producer of the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Clybourne Park on Broadway. When not on stage or set, Pierce spends much of his time in New Orleans helping to restore the Ponchartrain Park neighborhood that he grew up in. He told the Associated Press, “I’m tricoastal now. I can’t just come back and do plays. I owe it to my parents’ generation to make sure this neighborhood thrives again.” With regard to the Scholars program, he says, “I fondly remember those summer weeks in DC. When I became a Scholar, it opened up a new world for me. I am glad to be a part of the Scholar alumni.” Listen to an interview with Pierce about his book "The Wind in the Reeds".