Tony Kushner, Jennifer Lee, and Other Alumni in the News

Playwright Tony Kushner, center, and the cast and crew of "Angels in America" accept the award for best revival of a play at the 72nd annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on Sunday, June 10, 2018, in New York. (Photo by Michael Zorn/Invision/AP)
Tony Kushner accepts the Tony Award for best revival of a play. Photo: Michael Zorn/Invision/AP

Columbians won big at this year’s Tony Awards. The two-part epic Angels in America, which was written by Tony Kushner ’78CC, ’10HON and produced by Jordan Roth ’10BUS, won for best revival of a play. The Band’s Visit, co-produced by Steven Chaikelson ’89CC, ’93SOA, ’93LAW, took home ten awards, including best musical.

Olivier Knox ’92CC was appointed head of the White House Correspondents’ Association — the independent organization of journalists who cover the White House — in July. A veteran journalist who has reported on six presidential campaigns, Knox left Yahoo News this year to join SiriusXM as chief Washington correspondent.

MIT Technology Review magazine included Yin Qi ’13SEAS on its list of “35 Innovators Under 35.” Qi is the founder of Megvii, a Beijing-based face-recognition platform. The Chinese government has adopted the technology for security in train stations, and several banks are using it to confirm customer identities.

Benjamin Greenbaum ’97CC, ’06GSAS was a winner of the Pershing Square Sohn Prize, which honors young scientists for achievement in cancer research. Greenbaum, an assistant professor at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine, uses math and physics to analyze data related to immunotherapy response.

The Oscar-winning screenwriter and director Jennifer Lee ’05SOA was named the new head of Walt Disney Animation Studios. Lee, who is best known for her beloved animated movie Frozen, will be the first woman ever to serve as chief creative officer for the ninety-five-year-old studio.

Playwright Robert O’Hara ’96SOA won the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts, a $75,000 prize given annually to five “risk-taking” mid-career artists. O’Hara is best known for the plays Insurrection: Holding History and Bootycandy, both of which explore the intersection of racial and sexual identity.

The Mars Room, the third novel by Rachel Kushner ’01SOA, was named a finalist for the Man Booker Prize (see our review in the Spring/ Summer 2018 issue). Kushner’s first two novels, Telex from Cuba and The Flamethrowers, were both finalists for the National Book Award.