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McKinley Henderson


MA 1977, Theatre

Stephen McKinley Henderson has worked throughout the country in regional theatres, on and off Broadway, and in television and film. In the 04-05 New York season, Henderson was cast as Van Helsing in, Dracula, The Musical on Broadway at the Belasco Theatre, directed by Des McAnuff and off-Broadway as Pontius Pilate in the LAByrinth production of The Last Days of Judas Iscariot at The Public Theatre, directed by Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Henderson is a veteran of four Broadway productions and four off-Broadway productions, including the revival of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom with Charles S. Dutton and Whoopi Goldberg. His work has been cited among the celebrated performances which were part of the 20th Century Cycle of Pulitzer playwrite, August Wilson. In 2000, for his role in Wilson’s play, Jitney, Henderson won a Beverly Hills’ NAACP Theatre Award and a Los Angeles Drama Critic’s Award.

Henderson made his New York directorial debut with, ALI!  by Geoffrey C. Ewing and Graydon Royce. Their homage to the legendary champion ran off-Broadway during the 1992 season, transferring from the John Houseman Studio to the Sheridan Square Theatre. In the summer of 1993, Henderson traveled to London to direct ALI!, at the Mermaid Theatre. It was invited to the Olympic Arts Festival, Atlanta, 1996.

Henderson’s early education in Kansas City, Kansas, led to an academic scholarship to attend Lincoln University in Missouri, a historically black institution. In his freshman year at Lincoln, Henderson auditioned for John Houseman and Michael Kahn and became a member of Group I, Juilliard Drama Division in 1968. Houseman includes Henderson’s work at Juilliard in his memoirs, Final Dress, Simon and Schuster, 1983 and Unfinished Business, Applause, 1988. Henderson was among the alumni interviewed for the PBS American Masters documentary on Juilliard which first aired in January of 2003. His educational pursuits continued at North Carolina School of Arts where he served as president of the student government. When Dr. Joseph Stockdale was forming the Purdue Professional Summer Theatre in 1974, Henderson auditioned for the Purdue Graduate School. Henderson was given a chance to Head the Drama Workshop for the Black Cultural Center by its Director Antonio Zamora. He has attended summed sessions at Rose Bruford Academy in Britain and William Esper Studios, New York. From 2003 through 2005 Henderson received a fellowship to study with director, acting teacher, and Kennedy Center Honoree, Lloyd Richards.

In Buffalo, NY, Henderson has received two Art Voice Awards, for Outstanding Performance and Career Achievement. In 1993, he accepted the Artist of the Year Award from the Arts Council of Western New York presented by NEA Chair, Jane Alexander. Dr. Samuel Hay cites Henderson’s work as an actor, director, and educator in his text, African American Theater, A Critical Analysis, Cambridge University Press.

Henderson is a Fox Foundation Fellow. He is tenured faculty and a former Chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance for University of Buffalo, The State University of New York.