On Sunday, November 9, actor James Earl Jones was honored with the Voice Icon Award from the first-ever Voice Arts Awards, sponsored by the Society of Voice Arts and Sciences. The awards, which recognize achievement in voiceover acting and related roles, were announced in a ceremony evening at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York City.
Jones’ smooth baritone has provided the voice for many projects looking for a reliable tone of “authority.” He has simply counted numbers on on Sesame Street, breathed life into the menacing Darth Vader from the Star Wars film trilogy, given a human voice to the wise father Mufasa from the Disney animated film The Lion King, and announces “This is CNN” for the all-news network.
James Earl Jones is currently starring in the Broadway play You Can’t Take It With You. Fans of the two-time Tony Award winner can see his performance in the 2013 Australian production of Driving Miss Daisy when Great Performances broadcasts the made-for-film staging in our 2015 season. He plays Hoke Colburn, an illiterate African-American chauffeur, who is hired to drive a widowed school teacher, Daisy Werthan, played by Angela Lansbury.
Jones recently spoke with PBS NewsHour about overcoming a stutter in childhood to become one of the most recognized voices in the entertainment and news industry. Of the character Hoke Colburn, Jones tells NewsHour, “I like Hoke in Driving Miss Daisy. Hoke invents a language of his own. He doesn’t know how to use English as you and I are doing right now. But he has a way of talking that is quite poetic.”