Actress ANNA DEAVERE SMITH has won the prestigious Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize for her one-woman documentary stage shows.
The former West Wing star, 62, has been handed $300,000 for "opening eyes, ears and minds" with her theater projects about Rodney King, the face of the Los Angeles Riots, and healthcare.
Smith says, "I am deeply honored. I can't imagine a greater honor than having my name linked with the incomparable Dorothy and Lillian Gish."
The annual cash prize is given to a person who has made "an outstanding contribution to the beauty of the world and to mankind's enjoyment and understanding of life".
Previous recipients have included Bob Dylan and Robert Redford.
Smith played Dr. Nancy McNally in The West Wing; she has also appeared in TV show Nurse Jackie, and her film credits include RENT, Philadelphia and The American President.
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Thursday, NBC presents a variation of that film classic with a live stage production starring Carrie Underwood.