Musical Theatre director and UF School of Theatre + Dance (SOTD) professor Tony Mata was inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Theatre on April 23 at the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.
Mata joined the ranks of some of the most important and distinguished individuals of American Theatre, including people such as Edward Albee, author of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and two other UF SOTD professors, David Young and Judith Williams.
“When I read all the people who were fellows, there were people I studied about and who were mentors of mine,” Mata said. “It was very humbling to be inducted.”
Mata’s induction began with a cocktail party the evening before, where Mata and other nominated fellows gave speeches. On Sunday, they said a few words and were presented their medals at a luncheon at the Kennedy Center.
“It was a great moment in my life,” Mata said. “I’ll never forget it.”
Mata believes the fellowship invitation is due to both his extensive list of directorial achievements and Theatre of Rice and Beans, a film Mata directed with fellow SOTD professor Ralf Remshardt, which explores Latin American theatre. He is also the director of UF’s Musical Theatre program.
“I’ve been at school for 23 years and built the Musical Theatre program from the ground up,” Mata said.
Mata is no stranger to being honored for his achievements. He has received several prestigious awards, including seven Latin ACE Awards, four HOLA (Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors) Awards, six Meritorious Achievement Awards for Excellence in Directing from Kennedy Center's American College Theatre Festival and a Directing Fellowship from the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation.
“There are so many things I've been so blessed to be able to do,” Mata said.
As a fellow, Mata will now attend the College’s ceremony at the Kennedy Center every year. He was also asked to work with the top 12 musical theatre students chosen by the College while there.
“Life goes on to the next adventure,” Mata said. “Whatever that’s going to be.”
Rachael Jones (BFA Acting ‘11), one of Mata’s former students, also attended the ceremony.
“It was great to see a professor I always held in high regard to be honored for his greatness,” Jones said. “It’s great for UF to have 3 professors in the College of Fellows of the American Theatre.”