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U of I Professor Wins National Theatre Award for Service in Teaching Acting

May 08, 2019

MOSCOW, Idaho — May 8, 2019 — Professor Kelly Quinnett, head of performance at the University of Idaho Department of Theatre Arts, has received a national award in recognition of her commitment to teaching at the university level.

Quinnett is the first and only recipient of the Uta Hagen Award, presented and sponsored by the College of Fellows of the American Theatre in honor of Uta Hagen, the late Broadway star who spent decades training generations of aspiring actors.

The award, presented in April at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in Washington, D.C., recognizes Quinnett’s distinguished service as a teacher of acting and her distinguished career as a working actor.

Quinnett said she is humbled by the award.

“It’s really moving and meaningful to think about how many hearts I helped open,” Quinnett said. “I’ve always wanted to make a difference and help others connect.”

Quinnett encourages her students to cultivate empathy and the extraordinary, to act with honesty and to live creative and full lives of kindness, truth and vulnerability, on stage and off.

“Kelly Quinnett is simply the finest actor I’ve ever directed or acted with,” said David Lee-Painter, a professor of theatre in U of I’s College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences. “She lights up the stage and screen — like Uta Hagen she is dangerous in the very best sense — alive, vulnerable and advocating for her character and the storytelling in every moment. She makes all of her fellow actors better.”

Quinnett is past chair of the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival’s (KCATCF) Region 7 and was the 1990 recipient of the festival’s National Irene Ryan Scholarship. She has appeared on “All My Children” and “One Life to Live” and numerous film and stage productions. In 2016, Quinnett was honored with the National KCACTF Special Achievement in Performance as Medea in “Medea: Her Story,” produced by U of I Theatre Arts. She has taught at U of I since 1998.

Media Contact:

Kelly O’Neill
Media Relations, Department of Theatre Arts
University of Idaho

About the University of Idaho

The University of Idaho, home of the Vandals, is Idaho’s land-grant, national research university. From its residential campus in Moscow, U of I serves the state of Idaho through educational centers in Boise, Coeur d’Alene and Idaho Falls, nine research and Extension centers, plus Extension offices in 42 counties. Home to nearly 12,000 students statewide, U of I is a leader in student-centered learning and excels at interdisciplinary research, service to businesses and communities, and in advancing diversity, citizenship and global outreach. U of I competes in the Big Sky Conference. Learn more at