There are only handful of entertainers today which are as accomplished or as versatile as Ben Vereen. His legendary performances transcend time and have been woven into the fabric of this country’s artistic legacy which was crowned with a Tony Award for his renowned performance in Bob Fosse’s “Pippin”. Besides that, Ben solidified his place among Broadway royalty with starring roles in such Broadway productions as “Wicked”, “Fosse”, “Jesus Christ Superstar”, “Chicago”, “Hair” and “I’m Not Rappaport.”
Vereen is not only famous for his stage performances, but also for his screen performances. He is best known for his iconic role as “Chicken George” in the groundbreaking television miniseries Roots. Recently, he guest starred on the television shows Grey’s Anatomy (which won him a Prism Award), Tyler Perry’s House of Payne, andLaw and Order: Criminal Intent. He also appeared in the Emmy-nominated made-for-TV movie An Accidental Friendship, for which he earned a NAACP nomination. He also had a recurring role on the hit CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother.
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In the face of his professional successes, Vereen has encountered his share of adversity. From the loss of his 16-year-old daughter in an automobile accident to a debilitating stroke that left him unable to walk or sing to the onset of Type 2 diabetes, he has pushed forward and always come out stronger. One of the most requested speakers on the lecture circuit, Vereen uses the lessons he has learned in the good times and the bad to help inspire and encourage others. His topics vary from overcoming adversity, black history, recovery through physical and occupational therapy, arts in education and the importance of quality healthcare. He also acts as spokesman, spearheading a proactive and preventive campaign for those living with diabetes.
Ben Vereen sees his work on stage as a metaphor for his work in life. “Life is art,” he says. “Whatever we do in life – whether it’s performing or teaching or writing or raising kids – is a form of art. Whatever you do, if you embrace it, it will move you to the next level.”