BLACK WOMEN ON BROADWAY to Host Inaugural Awards Ceremony

Honorees are set to include Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage (Sweat), costumer designer Qween Jean (Black No More) and Tony-nominee Kara Young (Clyde's).

By: Jun. 01, 2022
BLACK WOMEN ON BROADWAY to Host Inaugural Awards Ceremony

Tony-nominee Danielle Brooks (The Color Purple), Amber Iman (Shuffle Along) and Jocelyn Bioh (Nollywood Dreams), the three artists behind the Instagram account "Black Women on Broadway," have revealed to Variety that they will host their first awards ceremony this week at New York City's Empire Hotel.

At the June 6 ceremony, the minds behind the platform and honored guests will gather to celebrate the past, present, and future of Black women in theater.

Honorees are set to include Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage, costume designer Qween Jean (Black No More) and Tony-nominated actor Kara Young (Clyde's).

Nottage is set to receive the Audra McDonald Legacy Award, with Young taking home the the Florence Mills Rising Star prize and Qween Jean receiving the Kathy A. Perkins Behind the Curtain award.

Bioh notes. "Naming something after Kathy A. Perkins - who's still lighting shows on Broadway and nominated again for 'Trouble in Mind' - or people like Florence Mills, who came onto the scene, and whose life was sadly cut short - we want to make sure that we're saying their names and acknowledging that they're never going to be forgotten."

Of McDonald, Brooks told Variety, "She lowkey is the Cicely Tyson of the theater. Can't nobody touch her. She's won more Tony's than anybody ever. And she's Black and it's awesome! Because of her, we know we can win."

According to Ms. Brooks, the ceremony will place focus on the often lesser celebrated, but no less important, areas of artistry and expertise within the theatre. The event aims to shine a light on the full scope of contributions from Black women at every level of the industry.

She tells Variety, "The thing that separates us from other organizations is we're really tapping into the spaces that get ignored - the lighting departments, sound departments, the understudies, the writers, the producers, the people that are not always in the front of the stage, that aren't the actors. We're bringing space for them to be in the room. That's really great for networking, but also for reminding this industry we are out here. Reminding younger girls that look up to us that there are different positions in this industry that you can aspire to that aren't just being an actress. To expand our sphere and say, 'Black women can take on all of it.'"

Iman also hopes the event will serve as an opportunity to build and celebrate an often overlooked community.

"We only see each other at the audition, at the call back, when we're running down 8th Avenue trying to get to the train...We never have time to just celebrate ourselves, celebrate each other, our wins, the fact that we survived and we're still here. This awards ceremony is another way for us all to be in the same room and say, 'I see you sis, and let's just love on each other a little bit,'" she said.

The group has also announced plans to launch a mentorship program as well as a web series exploring the lives and work of groundbreaking women of the past.

Read the full story at Variety!

Danielle Brooks is best known for her role as Tasha "Taystee" Jefferson in Netflix's Emmy-nominated series, "Orange is the New Black." Brooks and her cast received a SAG Award in 2014 for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series and Danielle was the recipient of the Young Hollywood Award for Breakthrough Actress. Brooks has also appeared in HBO's "Girls", and Aziz Ansari's Netflix comedy series, "Master of None". On the big screen, Brooks voiced a character for Sony's Angry Birds and has previously starred in Oren Moverman's Time Out of Mind and the independent feature, I Dream Too Much, which premiered at SXSW. Brooks made her Broadway debut in the 2015 revival of The Color Purple as Sofia and received Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Musical. In June 2019, she played Beatrice in The Public Theater's production of Much Ado About Nothing.

Jocelyn Bioh is an award winning Ghanaian-American writer/performer from New York City. Her written works for theatre include: MERRY WIVES adapted from Shakespeare's Merry Wives of Windsor (The Public Theater/Shakespeare in the Park) Nollywood Dreams (MCC Theater), GODDESS the musical which will have its world premiere at Berkeley Rep in 2022 and the multi award winning School Girls; Or The African Mean Girls Play which was originally produced at MCC Theater in 2017/2018 and has gone on to have over 20 regional productions. She is a former TOW playwriting fellow (2017) and has been commissioned by MTC, Atlantic Theater Co., Williamstown Theatre Festival and Second Stage. Jocelyn has also written for TV on Russian Doll, Spike Lee's She's Gotta Have It and is also writing the live screen adaptation of the hit Broadway musical Once On This Island for Disney+. Her play Nollywood Dreams was produced this season by MCC Theater.

Amber made her Broadway debut as the High Priestess of Soul, Nina Simone, in Soul Doctor, earning rave reviews and a nomination for the prestigious Clive Barnes Award. She then tackled the role of 'Aldonza' in Man of la Mancha at the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, DC, receiving the Emery Battis Award for Acting Excellence & a Helen Hayes Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Musical. In Spring of 2016, Amber returned to Broadway in Shuffle Along, Or, The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed. The show, nominated for 10 Tony Awards, was written and directed by George C. Wolfe, choreographed by Savion Glover, and boasted an all-star cast of Audra McDonald, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Billy Porter, Joshua Henry, and Brandon Victor Dixon. Marking her first national tour, Amber played 'Peggy Schuyler/Maria Reynolds' with the 11-time Tony Award winning smash hit Hamilton. She had a blast as 'Cheryl' in the star-studded, limited run of Little Shop of Horrors at the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington, DC. In February, she starred in Witness Uganda as 'Joy' at the Wallis Annenberg Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles, and is nominated for an LA Stage Alliance Ovation Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical . Most recently, Amber made her Two River Theatre Company debut as Luna C in "Oo-Bla-Dee", by Golden Globe Winner Regina Taylor, and directed by 2x TONY Award winner, Ruben Santaigo-Hudson.

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