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Broadway legend and Baltimore treasure Andrè De Shields on his hometown and longevity

Tony Winner Andre de Shields talks about his rise to fame.
Tony Winner Andre de Shields talks about his rise to fame. 02:37

BALTIMORE -- WJZ sat down with Broadway legend Andrè De Shields at the Bygone Friday after what has been a whirlwind week in his hometown.

"I could not have made it in New York if I had not first made it in Baltimore," De Shields told WJZ's Mike Hellgren. "Making it in your hometown is all about life lessons—the ones that are going to get you from Point A to Point B."

For De Shields, Point A is the 1800 block of Division Street where he grew up. 

It was renamed in his honor this week 

This is what "The Wiz" star had to say after a day of reflection: "Yesterday put me in the land of Oz. Is this really happening? Am I dreaming? Somebody pinch me. Somebody say this is real!"

De Shields is an Emmy Award, Grammy Award and Tony Award winner. The 2019 Tony Award was for his standout performance in "Hadestown."

His latest role is as the face of Artscape, which is returning this year in Baltimore.

"When I grew up in Baltimore, there was no such thing as Artscape," De Shields said, adding it is critical to give support to the arts and to his hometown. 

"I am so done with Baltimore being the murder capital of the world, and I want to do as much as I can to be a tool for the renaissance of Baltimore," he said.

And he is confident he will be around to see it.

At age 77, De Shields has no plans to slow down. 

"I'm just going to keep going at that steady, monstrously slow pace that I adopted for myself, and that is what is going to guarantee my longevity," De Shields told Hellgren.

He just may be immortal. 

"I'm attempting to break the Methuselah code," De Shields told us with a laugh. 

When he goes back to New York, he will take a piece of Baltimore with him—a replica 'Andrè De Shields Way' sign.

Its color is his trademark red, which "pops" he told Hellgren.

"Maybe this is the universe telling me I don't have to dream any longer," he said. "You just have to be ready when your abundance arrives. That's all," he said, holding the sign high. "Abundance!"

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