Ashley Herbert of Roxbury emerged as the winner of the National August Wilson Monologue Competition on Monday in New York City — a contest that featured a surprise appearance by none other than Denzel Washington.
Herbert, a 17-year-old junior at the Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers, was chosen as the best performer among 16 high school contestants from cities across the country who delivered monologues from Wilson’s dramas on the stage of the Broadway theater named after the playwright, who died in 2005.
She won a total of $3,000 in scholarship money: $1,500 from the Atlanta-based True Colors Theatre Company, which organized the national competition, and $1,500 from Delta Air Lines, the presenting sponsor of the competition.
“I’m still in shock,’’ Herbert said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “This competition really changed my views about life. I came there not thinking that I would ever do acting again, but it made me feel that if you really try your best and you really focus on it, you can really achieve something big.’’
While her proud mother, Marci George, and several relatives looked on in the August Wilson Theatre, Herbert delivered a monologue by a character called Black Mary, from Wilson’s “Gem of the Ocean,’’ set in Pittsburgh in 1904. In the monologue, Black Mary, a housekeeper, defiantly tells her boss that she will cook the way she wants to, not the way the boss wants her to.
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