In January 2016, Ben signed with Americans for the Arts, the largest advocacy group of the Arts in America. Most recently, Ben went with other artists to speak on Capitol Hill defending the National Endowment for the Arts against the proposed budget cuts. They also took him to the DNC where Ben spoke out to various senators, congressmen, governors on the arts and education and later Ben sang “WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS NOW” with other Broadway Icons.
Ben starred alongside Richard Gere in TIME OUT OF MIND and received a Variety Oscar Critic’s Pick mention! John Secor of the Sarasota Film Festival reported, “Ben Vereen is given his most textured role in years, and his sensitive performance reminds us why he’s a legend”. Ben also costarred in Chris Rock’s TOP FIVE, which opened to rave reviews. Ben starred in the world premiere of FETCH CLAY, MAKE MAN directed by Des McAnuff (Jersey Boys).
While performing worldwide, Ben’s acting credits continue to give us memorable roles that stand the test of time such as the unforgettable Chicken George in Roots and Louis Armstrong in Louis Armstrong – Chicago Style. Ben’s television guest appearances include How I Met Your Mother, Grey’s Anatomy (for which he won the Prism Award), Hot in Cleveland (with Betty White), NCIS, House of Payne, Law and Order: Criminal Intent, OZ, Star Trek – The Next Generation, The Jamie Fox Show, and Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Ben has also had recurring roles on Silk Stalkings, Webster, and J.J. Starbuck and Booker. For Nickelodeon, Ben provided voice-overs on the show Wonder Pets! Additional credits include: Anne Rice’s Feast of All Saints (Showtime), Intruders They Are Among Us (Emmy nomination), Zoobilee Zoo, Faerie Tale Theatre’s Puss N’ Boots with Gregory Hines, The Jesse Owens Story, Ellis Island (Golden Globe Nomination), Lost in London, and Salute to Liberty Special. His own network television shows are Ben Vereen: His Roots (Seven Emmy Awards), Tenspeed and Brownshoe and You Write the Songs. In the early 90’s, he released a number of well-received children’s Sing-Along musical videos.
Ben was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for his performance in the Hallmark movie An Accidental Friendship. He appeared in the features, 21 and a Wake-Up starring Faye Dunaway and Mama, I Want to Sing! in which Ben co-starred opposite Ciara and Patti LaBelle. While filming Idlewild with the award winning group Outkast, Ben also served as the acting coach for both Andre 3000 and Big Boy. In addition, Ben has been coaching the singing sensation Usher both as an entertainer and an actor. Ben was featured in the movie, On The One – Preaching to the Choir directed by Charles Randolph-Wright. Other film credits include Sweet Charity, All That Jazz, Funny Lady (Golden Globe nomination), Why Do Fools Fall in Love, And Then Came Love starring Vanessa Williams, the animated movies Khumba and Once Upon a Forest, Christmas in Washington and The Painting which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. In 2004, Ben was nominated for a “Career Achievement Award” by the Le Prix International Film Star Awards Organization.
For over 40 years, Ben has showcased his versatility and creativity, performing countless one-man shows in the United States, Europe, Asia and the Caribbean. He was the first simultaneous winner of the “Entertainer of the Year,” “Rising Star,” and “Song and Dance Star” awards from the American Guild of Variety Artists (AGVA). He also earned a coveted spot in the Casino Legends Hall of Fame. Ben Vereen is currently touring his one man show, Steppin’ Out with Ben Vereen, dazzling audiences throughout the United States. Ben’s show is a unique blend of artistry, combining a tribute to Broadway, Frank Sinatra, and a very special tribute to Sammy Davis Jr. Featuring songs such as “Defying Gravity,” “Mr. Bojangles,” “For Good” from Wicked and “Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries,” Steppin’ Out with Ben Vereen is a contemporary and timeless journey through the Broadway songbook. Ben promises an evening of song and dance, filled with entertainment and laughter, stories and inspiration!
The lecture circuit has become an integral part of Ben’s career, as he has become one of the Nations’ most requested speakers among audiences of all ages. His strong sense of social consciousness has enabled him to reach out to his audiences and convey to them a deep feeling of understanding. His topics range from overcoming adversity, arts in education, Black history, motivational topics, Broadway lecture with song, recovery through physical and occupational therapy and the importance of continuing education – to name a few.
Ben’s gift of time has benefited many organizations. He has served on Ballet Florida’s Board of Directors, the American Red Cross and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Association. In 1989, he spearheaded his own organization, “Celebrities for a Drug Free America,” which raised money for drug rehabilitation centers, educational programs and inner city community-based projects. The Community Mental Health Council awarded Ben with their 2004 Lifeline Celebration Achievement Award. For his humanitarian contributions, he has received a number of awards including Israel’s Cultural and Humanitarian Awards, three NAACP Image Awards, an Eleanor Roosevelt Humanitarian Award and a Victory Award. He has received honorary doctorates from the University of Arizona, Emerson College, St. Francis College, and Columbia College in Chicago. In 2001, Medgar Evers College created the Ben Vereen Scholarship for the Performing Arts, and in 2004, he received an Achievement in Excellence Award from his alma mater, the High School of the Performing Arts.
Ben celebrated Eartha Kitt’s 80th birthday in concert at Carnegie Hall to multiple standing ovations and in front of the Armed Forces for those men and women who have served in Iraq, truly a major highlight of his career. In 2009, he performed at the Inaugural Ball and entertained at the reopening of the Ford Theatre in Washington, D.C., which was attended by President Obama. Ben entertained at the Friar’s Club gala honouring CBS president Leslie Moonves. Soon after, Ben led ongoing diabetes awareness campaign called “S.T.A.N.D.” in partnership with Sanofi-Aventis pharmaceuticals where he represented them exclusively for a few years. Soon after Ben, became a celebrity ambassador with Novo Nordisk where he travelled around the country speaking on Living with Type 2 Diabetes.
In February of 2011, Ben released his CD Steppin’ Out Live with Ben Vereen and staged a triumphant return to Broadway with his concert “BEN VEREEN ON BROADWAY AT TOWN HALL”.
On January 30th, 2012, Ben was inducted in to The Theatre Hall of Fame. He performed for 100,000 people at the Washington Monument on July 4th and in August, Ben was inducted into the Dance Hall of Fame. Ben also received the Broadwayworld.com 2012 Cabaret Award BEST CELEBRITY MALE VOCALIST for his dazzling 2 week run at the New York City’s latest music venue 54 Below. In May of 2013, Ben received his honorary degree from the LaGuardia School of Performing Arts.
Ben led the American Athletes into the LA Coliseum for The Special Olympics, followed by participating in Producer Nigel Lythgoe’s event in Beverly Hills introducing dance as a competition for the first time in the history of the Special Olympics. At the DIZZY FEET FOUNDATION GALA, Ben presented an award to George Chakiris and Russ Tamblyn the stars of WEST SIDE STORY.
As Ben continues working as an actor, singer, dancer, in television, film and onstage, he is now developing 2 plays for Broadway, one THE FIRST GRADER being written by award winning playwright WILL POWER and the other, a musical, written by JOE CALARCO, with music by Stephen Schwartz and another composer soon to be announced. Ben continues his journey having created the newly formed BEN VEREEN FOUNDATION and BEN VEREEN’S QUEST FOR THE ARTS, summer intensive that promises to be unlike any other program in the United States. Ben is currently writing his biography with Pulitzer award winning Craig Wolff.