The MLK Observance Day Association announces that award- winning actress Tonea Stewart, known for her roles in the television series “In the Heat of the Night” and the movie adaptation of John Grisham’s “A Time to Kill,” will be the keynote speaker for the 35th anniversary MLK Observance Day Unity Brunch. The event will take place Saturday, Feb. 8 at 10 a.m. at Savannah’s International Trade and Convention Center on Hutchinson Island. Individual tickets and table sponsorships are available for $50 per person. Tickets may be purchased from any member of the association, or by contacting the MLK Observance Day Association by phone at (912) 234-5502, or in person at 1206 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Savannah.
Stewart, who has served as chair and professor of Theatre Arts at Alabama State University for more than two decades, has also kept a presence in television, film and on stage for 40 years. She is a renowned speaker, motivator and orator.
As former chair of Theatre Arts and now dean of the College of Visual & Performing Arts, Stewart serves as administrator over the departments of Art, Music and Theatre. After receiving a B.S. degree in Speech and Theatre from Jackson State University and a master’s degree in theater arts from the University of California, Santa Barbara, Stewart completed her Ph.D. in theater arts at Florida State University (FSU), in 1989. She was the first African American female to receive a doctorate from the FSU School of Theatre. During her study at FSU, she also received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and she was the recipient of the Alabama State Council on the Arts Fellowship Award in 2013.
As an actress, Stewart is perhaps best known for her recurring role as Miss Etta Kibbee in “In the Heat of the Night.” She earned an NAACP Image Award nomination for her role in the film adaptation of John Grisham’s “A Time to Kill” and a New York World Festival Gold Medal Award for the narration of Public Radio International’s series “Remembering Slavery.”
“Her screen and television credits also include: “The Rosa Parks Story,” “Mississippi Burning,” “Invasion of the Body Snatchers III,” “Living Large,” “My Stepson/ My Lover,” “Walker,
Texas Ranger,” “Memphis Beat,” “Matlock,” “Leave of Absence,” “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” “ER,” “Touched by an Angel,” “Mississippi Damned” and several Lifetime movies, the latest being “The Wronged Man.”
Stewart is a member of the Order of The Golden Circle, and she is a life member of the NAACP, SCLC and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc”