Considered among the celebrated interpreters of playwright August Wilson’s work, Stephen served as associate artistic director for Ruben Santiago Hudson in the historic audio recordings of Wilson’s American Century Cycle. In the fall of 2013 all ten of the plays were recorded and live streamed throughout the cyber world from WNYC/NPR’s Greene Space in Manhattan. In 2010 Henderson received a Tony nomination and the Richard Seff Award for his performance as Bono in the Broadway revival of FENCES with Denzel Washington and Viola Davis. He received a Virtuoso Award from the International Santa Barbara Film Festival in 2016 for his performance in the Paramount feature film of FENCES directed by Mr. Washington. In 2007 he was cast in two productions of Signature Theatre’s critically acclaimed Wilson season, and in three productions of Kenny Leon’s historic Century Cycle Readings at Kennedy Center in 2008. Stephen participated in the naming ceremony of the August Wilson Theater in 2005; the same stage where he made his 2001 Broadway debut as Stool Pigeon in Mr. Wilson’s King Hedley II when it was The Virginia Theatre. Stephen also played Slow Drag in the 2003 Broadway revival of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom with Charles S. Dutton and Whoopi Goldberg. In an eloquent obituary for Mr. Wilson, Michael Feingold of the Village Voice wrote,
“To think of the great characters and scenes in August’s plays is to think of an epic parade of great African American actors who have seized their moment to make theater history: James Earl Jones and Mary Alice in Fences, Charles S. Dutton in Ma Rainey and The Piano Lesson, S. Epatha Merkerson confronting him in the latter, Roscoe Lee Browne sagely ironic in Two Trains Running, Stephen McKinley Henderson oozing malice in Jitney, Ruben Santiago-Hudson and Lisa Gay Hamilton glaring a skyful of weaponry at each other in Gem of the Ocean.”
During its off-Broadway run in 2000, Jitney garnered Drama Desk, Obie, and Audelco awards for each actor as members of the outstanding ensemble of the New York season. In Los Angeles, Mr. Henderson won the NAACP Theatre Award and a Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for his performance as Turnbo. Jitney’s production history from 1996-2002 culminated in an Olivier Award for its run at the National Theatre of Great Britain.