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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Specht

AFI To Honor Julie Andrews With The 48TH AFI Life Achievement Award

The American Film Institute (AFI) Board of Trustees announced today that their 48th annual lifetime achievement award will be presented to the legendary Dame Julie Andrews. The highest honor for a career in film will be presented to Andrews at a Gala Tribute on April 25, in Los Angeles, CA. The televised presentation ceremony is a swanky production equal to that of the Academy Awards, and has won Emmys across its 48-year run. This year the program returns for its eighth year with TNT, followed by an encore appropriately scheduled to be seen in the fall on its sister network Turner Classic Movies (TCM).

“Julie Andrews is practically perfect in every way,” said Kathleen Kennedy, Chair of the AFI Board of Trustees. “Her talents across time have inspired a shared sense of joy across generations, and her gifts to our cultural heritage are a testament to the power of this art form to bring us together when we need it most. AFI is proud to sing her praises with its 48th Life Achievement Award.” As cheesy and pre-scripted as that quote sounds, the sentiment is whole heartedly sincere. I can't image there's a single person anywhere who would argue with that statement. Andrews' on screen persona has always encapsulated the good things in life - the honest and the true, the kind and the generous, the gracious and the humble. Her off-screen persona is said to emulate the same qualities.

A legendary actress of both stage and screen, Andrews has enchanted and delighted audiences around the world with her uplifting and inspiring body of work. I was first introduced to her (as most have) when I saw her on the screen at the small theater in my home town when there was a re-release of Mary Poppins. Not too long after that I viewed her on TV in a presentation of The Sound of Music. I don't know why, but the 1965 Best Picture Oscar winner was televised on the local channel every year around Thanksgiving, just as The Wizard of Oz played every year around Easter.

Andrews continued to create other memorable roles in The Americanization of Emily with James Garner, Alfred Hitchcock's Torn Curtain, and the wonderfully campy Thoroughly Modern Millie. In recent years she has garnered a whole new generation of fans via a multiple of successful kid friendly franchises, including The Princess Diaries, Shrek, and Despicable Me. Most recently, Andrews was cast in Bridgerton, a new NetFlix series created by the much lauded Shonda Rhimes. And if that weren't enough for one lifetime, the inimitable lady has authored not only children's books but two memoirs, the successful New York Times Best Seller, “Home: A Memoir of My Early Years”, and now “Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years”.

As you can see, Andrews is one of those remarkable individuals who knows how fortunate they are and uses their celebrity to shine a light on humanitarian issues. Her activism and philanthropic work with such organizations as the Alzheimer's Association, the Bob Woodruff Foundation, the Human Rights Campaign, and the Midnight Mission are only a small part of her good doings. She is also very vocal about giving her public support to Gender Equality, Homelessness, LGBT issues, recognizing the service of Veterans, and groups who organize programs that bring music to school children. No wonder the Queen of England bestrode the title of Dame of the British Empire (DBE) upon the entertainer in 2000 for services to the performing arts. Her enormous generosity of spirit

Throughout an incredibly illustrious career that spans seven decades (that's nearly a quarter of a century!), Andrews has remained relevant and at the forefront of her profession, receiving an Academy Award, a BAFTA, five Golden Globes, three Grammys, two Emmys, the Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award, the Kennedy Center Honors Award, and the Disney Legends Award. Apart from her musical career, she is also an author of children's books and has published two autobiographies, Home: A Memoir of My Early Years and Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years.

Now Julie Andrews joins the list of forty-seven other AFI Life Achievement Award recipients, only ten of whom have been women. The group is a prestigious one ranging from John Ford to Jimmy Stewart, Barbara Stanwyck to Meryl Steep, and Sidney Poitier to George Clooney. It certainly is an impressive capstone to an already remarkable career, and yet it is more than unlikely that this is the end for Ms. Andrews. We will continue to see her visage upon every screen imaginable, and on the stage, and in public for a long time to come. That's now one of my favorite things.


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