Newsmakers

Photo by Regina Mogilevskaya.

Best Broadway Debut

Montgomery County’s own Myles Frost hit it big last year. At the age of 22, he was the one of the youngest solo actors ever to win a Tony Award, honored as the Best Leading Actor in a Musical for his portrayal of Michael Jackson in MJ The Musical. Born in Silver Spring, Frost grew up singing and playing piano and drums. At Thomas S. Wootton High School in Rockville, he acted in productions including Hairspray and performed Jackson’s hit “Billie Jean” at a talent show. In 2017, Frost appeared on The Voice but wasn’t chosen to advance. He left his audio engineering studies at Bowie State University once he landed his professional debut role playing the mega pop star in MJ.


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Best Rising Star with MoCo Roots

Montgomery Blair High School alum Cynthia Addai-Robinson starred in two big productions released last fall. She played Queen Regent Miriel in the Amazon Prime Video series TheLord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, which premiered in September. Then she was a wealthy British bride in The People We Hate at the Wedding, a comedy-drama film released by Prime Video in November. Addai-Robinson was born in London and moved to Silver Spring when she was 4. After Blair, she graduated from New York University with a bachelor’s in theater.


Worst Government Exit

There were a slew of unplanned departures at the Montgomery County Planning Board last fall after allegations of misconduct. An internal investigation, prompted by a whistleblower tip, revealed that board Chair Casey Anderson kept a liquor cabinet in his office at the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission headquarters in Wheaton and served colleagues after work hours. Anderson apologized for breaking the policy of having alcohol in his government office. In October, the county council asked the entire board to resign, including Anderson, who had served on the panel since 2011; Vice Chair Partap Verma; and board members Gerald Cichy, Tina Patterson and Carol Rubin.


Worst (Alleged) Attempt to Breach Medical Trust

News of a Rockville couple being charged with trying to aid Russia in its war with Ukraine read a bit like a foiled plot in a spy novel. In September, the U.S. Department of Justice charged Jamie Lee Henry, a U.S. Army major, and his wife, Anna Gabrielian, an anesthesiologist at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, with conspiracy and the wrongful disclosure of individually identifiable health information. Prosecutors allege the pair met with someone they thought was connected to the Russian government to pass on private medical notes of Americans in the federal government and military, but that individual was actually an undercover FBI agent. If convicted, Gabrielian and Henry face several years in prison on the charges.

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Best Humanitarian Businessman

Chef José Andrés has expanded his humanitarian efforts to support the people of Ukraine through his World Central Kitchen (WCK). Within 24 hours of the Russian invasion in February, his nonprofit helped distribute free hot meals to refugees along the border with Poland. Andrés, who lives in Bethesda, has organized more than 5,000 volunteers working in 550 restaurants to provide meals in the war-torn country. In August, Andrés met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to update him on the work of WCK and highlight the collaborative network providing food delivery throughout the country.


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Best Business Reboot

Bethesda entrepreneur Seth Goldman is back in the bottled tea business. The Honest Tea co-founder sold that brand to Coca-Cola in 2011, but in May 2022, the corporation announced it was discontinuing the drink. Then last fall, Goldman and celebrity chef Spike Mendelsohn launched Just Ice Tea through Eat the Change, a company the two founded in 2020. The drink (a nod to “justice”) is marketed as being produced with organic fair trade-sourced tea leaves and ingredients, and suppliers who are fairly compensated.


Matt Mervis. Photo by Getty Images.

Best Homegrown MLB Prospects

Locals are keeping an eye on the rising baseball careers of Matt Mervis and James Wood. Mervis grew up in Potomac, attended Georgetown Preparatory School in North Bethesda and played college base-ball at Duke University. The 24-year-old had an outstanding 2022 season as an infielder with several minor league teams, including the Triple-A Iowa Cubs in Des Moines. He hit 36 home runs and led minor league baseball with 119 RBIs. Olney’s James Wood finished the 2022 season playing outfield for the Washington Nationals’ single-A affiliate team in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Wood was a baseball and basketball standout at St. John’s College High School in Chevy Chase, D.C., before transferring to IMG Academy, a sports prep school in Bradenton, Florida. The 20-year-old started his pro career with the San Diego Padres organization in 2021 and was dealt to the Nationals’ organization in 2022 as part of the Juan Soto trade.

James Wood. Photo by Getty Images.