On November 10, 2021, Pauline Willis, AFA Director and CEO sat down for an intimate conversation with celebrated actor, arts advocate, and collector CCH Pounder on her passion for collecting, artists of the African Diaspora, and co-founding a contemporary art museum in Dakar, Senegal.
Award-winning actress CCH Pounder is known for her decades-long career in film and television, with roles on such shows as NCIS: New Orleans; The Shield; Sons of Anarchy; ER; The X-FILES and The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, among others. Film credits include Home Again; Rain; Prizzi’s Honor; Postcards from the Edge; Orphan; Avatar; and her breakout role in Bagdad Café.
Pounder has been extensively involved in the arts as a patron, collector, gallery owner and museum founder. Originally from Georgetown, Guyana, her collection contains over 500 works of art from Caribbean and African artists and artists of the African Diaspora, as well as traditional African sculptures. In 1993 Pounder and her husband, the late Boubacar Koné, founded and built the Musée Boribana, the first privately owned contemporary museum in Dakar, Senegal, which they gifted to that nation in 2014. Pounder has loaned numerous pieces from her collection to Xavier University in New Orleans for a series of exhibitions and more recently, for exhibits at Somerset House in England and The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, MI.
A graduate of Ithaca College, she received an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from the school and was honored in October, 2021 by Ithaca College Alumni Association with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Pounder serves on the Board of the African Millennium Foundation and was a founding member of Artists for a New South Africa. An advocate of the arts, she is active in the Creative Coalition. Recent accolades include the Visionary Leadership Award in Performing Arts from the Museum of the African Diaspora (MOAD) in San Francisco; the 2015 Carney Awards, 2015 Honoree at the Grand Performances Gala in Los Angeles, the 2016 SweetArts Performing Arts honoree from the Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans, the National Urban League’s 2017 Women of Power Award and the 2018 Bob Marley Award from AFUWI (American Foundation for the University of the West Indies).
Headshot: CCH Pounder, Photo Credit © Robert Hale