This Award Means Meeting Donald Trump. Here’s How These Performing Arts Icons Plan To Use The Opportunity.

"To get this kind of award is so American.”

This year's Kennedy Center Honors will certainly be an interesting one. Given the fact that those being honored usually attend a White House reception with the president ahead of the ceremony, not all five of 2017's honorees will be going to that event in particular. Those not attending — and even some who are — are planning to use their platform to make a statement during a tumultuous political climate.


It has been announced that TV producer Norman Lear, rapper LL Cool J, dancer-choreographer Carmen de Lavallade, as well as musicians Gloria Estefan and Lionel Richie, would be the five individuals whose talents and achievements in the performing arts will be highlighted this year. President Donald Trump was not the one to choose the honorees, as they're picked by the Kennedy Center itself, but Lear will be skipping the chance to meet with the president himself.

"This is a presidency that has chosen to neglect totally the arts and humanities — deliberately defund them — and that doesn't rest pleasantly with me," Lear — who has created classic TV shows such as All in the Family and The Jeffersons — told the New York Times.

Lear — who has spoken out against the 45th president before — created one of the most iconic (and infamous) TV characters ever with Archie Bunker, who has been likened to Trump before, on All in the Family and also featured one of the first Black-White interracial couples on TV with The Jeffersons. The 95-year-old TV icon has never been afraid to go there with hard topics before and is taking a stand against Trump's the defunding of arts — specifically not including the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in his proposed budget.

Estefan and LL Cool J on the other hand — as well as the others — will be attending. But just because they'll be there for the moment with the president and First Lady Melania Trump doesn't mean they aren't viewing the opportunity from two completely different angles.

"Mr. President, as a proud immigrant of this country, it's very important for me that you see the wonderful contributions we have made," Estefan said about the decision to go and try to educate the president. "We have seen a lot of anti-immigrant backlash this year, so for us, it may hold even more beauty for someone who has lived here all their lives. To get this kind of award is so American."

The 59-year-old is Cuban by birth, but whose family immigrated to the United States at a young age, has also been critical of Trump's actions in the past, specifically his numerous negative statements about immigrants throughout the years, more so since running for president. 

While Estefan is choosing to use this as a chance to educate Trump, LL Cool J — who is the first rapper to be honored — said politics will be put aside and there are no plans to boycott.

"I don't have any stunts planned," he said. "I'm not saying I need to be there backslapping and all of that, but this time, this one ain't about him. I'm not going to block my blessings or let the political divide stop me from embracing my art."

Much as art can be polarizing, there's sure to be those who support what these individuals are doing and those who won't. The honor — a culmination of each of these outstanding careers — is important, but what is also important is that these artists are able to continue expressing how they feel about the world around them.

(H/T: The Wrap)

Cover image via Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock | Lev Radin / Shutterstock


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