President Joe Biden will honor Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Bruce Springsteen, Mindy Kaling and other artists and authors at the White House on Tuesday in a star-studded ceremony.
Biden, along with first lady Jill Biden, will present the 2021 National Humanities Medals and the 2021 National Medals of Art — the country’s highest honor for artists — in the East Room, according to a White House official.
A total of 24 artists, authors and philanthropists will be recognized. The first couple has ties to many of the famous names being honored and several of the names in bold helped their 2020 presidential campaign.
Actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus being honored by President Joe Biden – she is one of his longtime supporters and (above) her and her son, actor Charlie Hall, attended the Bidens’ first state dinner in December
Biden is particularly close to VEEP star Louis-Dreyfus, who formed a warm friendship with him after staring in the HBO comedy about an aspiring vice president. The two performed together in a skit for the White House Correspondents Association dinner in May 2014.
She also revealed that Biden called her after her breast cancer diagnosis in 2017. She discussed that moment at the August 2020 Democratic National Convention.
“I was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago and I was terrified,” she said. “One of the first people who called me was Joe. His genuine warmth and kindness on that call, man, I gotta say, I cried.’
She was also a guest at the Bidens’ first state dinner last December, where she brought her son, Charlie.
Springsteen performed at Biden’s inauguration in January 2021, singing Land of Hope and Dreams on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. It was the same song Barack Obama walked offstage with on January 10, 2017, as he gave his farewell speech to the nation.
And during the 2020 presidential campaign, Springsteen narrated an ad for Biden based on the president’s hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania.
“This place stays with him,” said the rock star. “These streets are part of him. This is more than where he comes from; it’s for who he is.’
Bruce Springsteen performed at Joe Biden’s inauguration in January 2021
Actress Mindy Kahling was a big supporter and fundraiser for Joe Biden
Kaling was a strong supporter of Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. She even made a YouTube video of her and Harris making masala dosas (stuffed pancakes) together.
The Indian-American actress was a major fundraiser for their ticket.
Biden honors singer Gladys Knight after receiving a Kennedy Center Honor in December. She sat with the president in his box at the ceremony and was honored with a reception at the White House.
Designer Vera Wang created Jill Biden’s formal dress for Biden’s second inaugural ball as vice president.
She was one of several designers who designed merchandise for Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, which was sold online to benefit his candidacy.
Authors honored include two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Colson Whitehead, historian Walter Isaacson, Amy Tan, Tara Westover, and Ann Patchett.
Patchett hosted Jill Biden at her Nashville bookstore in 2018 for an event for Biden’s memoir “Where the Light Enters.”
President Joe Biden honors designer Vera Wang (top left), Wang made Jill Biden’s inaugural ballgown for Biden’s second inauguration as vice president in January 2013 (top right)
President Biden honors singer Gladys Knight, who received a Kennedy Center Honor in December (above Knight with Biden and other Kennedy Center honorees at the White House)
Also honored is Judith Francisca Baca, whose murals tell the stories of those who have not always been acknowledged: women, minorities and queer people; and documentary filmmaker Joan Shigekawa, who served under Barack Obama at the National Endowment of the Arts. In her youth, Shigekawa spent 18 months in an internment camp for Japanese-Americans.
The Billie Holiday Theater in Brooklyn, NY. is honored for cultivating and nurturing black talent, as is the International Association of Blacks in Dance. The administration also honors the Native America Calling dial-up program
Bryan Stevenson, the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, a human rights organization, is being honored for his work to challenge prejudice against the poor and minorities in the justice system.
Other winners include poet Richard Blanco, singer Antonio Martorell-Cardona, black historian Earl Lewis, Native American scholar Henrietta Mann, dancer Fred Eychaner, singer Jose Feliciano and anthropologist Johnnetta Betsch Cole.
President Joe Biden, with first lady Jill Biden, presented singer Elton John with a National Humanities Medal in September 2022 when he performed at the White House
President Biden previously awarded a National Humanities Medal to Sir Elton John in September 2022 at a White House event, “A Night When Hope and History Rhyme.”
Arts and Humanities Honorees
President Joe Biden will honor two dozen artists and philanthropists at the White House on Tuesday for their contributions to American society and culture.
The National Medal of Arts is the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on artists, patrons of the arts, and groups, and honors exemplary individuals and organizations who have advanced the arts in America and inspired others.
The National Humanities Medal honors individuals or groups whose work has deepened understanding of the humanities in the country and broadened our citizens’ engagement with history, literature, languages, philosophy and other humanities topics.
2021 National Medal of Arts recipients
Judith Francisca Baca
Juliet Louis Dreyfus
Antonio Martorell Cardona
The Billie Holiday Theatre
The International Association of Blacks in Dance
Recipients of the 2021 National Humanities Medal
Johnetta Betsch Cole
Native America Calling