Kwame Kwei-Armah, the British-born playwright, director and actor who just wrapped up his first season as artistic director of Baltimore's Center Stage, has received an OBE -- Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire -- from Queen Elizabeth II.

The Queen's Birthday Honors List for 2012, released Saturday, recognizes achievement and service in a variety of fields, from government and journalism to philanthropy and the arts.

Kwei-Armah's, whose plays have been produced in London's Wets End to considerable acclaim, received the OBE "for services to Drama."  He will be presented with the honor at Buckingham Palace later this year. (An OBE is a couple steps below the top honor of knighthood, so he will not be known as Sir Kwame.)


UPDATE: In a statement released Monday, Kwei-Armah said: "My mother came from a tiny village in a small island in the Caribbean. If she were here today on this announcement, I perceive that it may have validated much of the pain, suffering and self-sacrifice she, my father, and many other family members of the Windrush generation went through to give their children a shot of living what I would of course call the West Indian dream, but what is in fact, the immigrant's dream.

"A dream that although far from complete, has made our country a warmer, more equitable place than it was when they first arrived on its shores. It is with this narrative at the forefront of my mind that I say I am truly humbled to have been given this award."

His plays include "Elmina's Kithcen" and "Let There Be Love," both of which were produced at Center Stage, where Kwei-Armah's latest work will be premiered next season.

He was named artistic director of the company in 2010, succeeding Irene Lewis.Among those from the arts and culture world on the 2012 Queens Birthday Honors List receiving knighthoods are ...

actor Kenneth Branagh, Royal Shakespeare Company artistic director Michael Boyd, and opera director David McVicar.

Academy Award-winning actress Kate Winslet received a CBE (Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire). Jean Marsh, co-creator of the beloved TV series "Upstairs, Downstairs" received an OBE, as did English National Opera music director Edward Gardner.