Luis Valdez, Morgan Freeman to Receive National Medal of Arts [UPDATED]

Luis Valdez (Photo: Fotos International/Getty Images))

UPDATED: Sept. 15, 11:30am

President Barack Obama will honor El Teatro Campesino co-founder Luis Valdez as well as actors Mel Brooks and Morgan Freeman with the 2015 National Medal of Arts, the White House said Wednesday.

The artists and other leading creative figures have been invited to receive the medal at a White House ceremony on Sept. 22. First lady Michelle Obama also planned to attend.

The announcement stated that Valdez was being honored for "bringing Chicano culture to American drama."


"As a playwright, actor, writer, and director, he illuminates the human spirit in the face of social injustice through award-winning stage, film, and television productions," the statement read.

After learning the news, Valdez released this statement:

I am honored to receive this recognition from President Obama and the National Council of the Arts. I share it with the countless artists who have created El Teatro Campesino over the last fifty years.

The White House said Brooks was being honored for "a lifetime of making the world laugh." The actor, director, writer and musician is one of the few artists to have won an Oscar, an Emmy, a Tony and a Grammy.

Freeman will be honored for his work as an actor, director and narrator.

"His iconic stage and screen performances have brought to life characters from the whole spectrum of the human experience, moving audiences around the world, and influencing countless young artists," the White House said in a statement.

Other winners this year include composer Philip Glass, actress and singer Audra McDonald, author Sandra Cisneros and painter Jack Whitten. Musician Santiago Jimenez Jr. and playwright Moises Kaufman are also on the list.

The White House also announced that celebrity chef Jose Andres is among the 2015 recipients of the National Humanities Medal. So are jazz legend Wynton Marsalis, public radio host Terry Gross and author James McBride.

Others receiving the National Medal of Arts:

— Record producer and songwriter Berry Gordy

— Dancer and choreographer Ralph Lemon

— The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center

Others receiving the National Humanities Medal:

— Author Rudolfo Anaya

— Author Louis Menand

— Author Ron Chernow

— Prison University Project, Higher Education Program

— Physician and author Abraham Verghese

— Historian and author Elaine Pagels

— Journalist and author Isabel Wilkerson

— Poet Louise Gluck

KQED's Kevin L. Jones contributed to this report.

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