Theater News

Audra McDonald, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Vanessa Williams, and More Form Black Theatre United

The coalition will combat racism in the theater industry.

Norm Lewis, Vanessa Williams, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Audra McDonald, LaChanze, and Darius de Haas
Norm Lewis, Vanessa Williams, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Audra McDonald, LaChanze, and Darius de Haas
(© David Gordon/Tristan Fuge)

An illustrious list of stage greats has joined together to form Black Theatre United, a coalition of actors and creatives working to create reforms and combat racism in the theater industry.

The group's core mission is awareness, accountability, advocacy, and action. "With roots reaching into all 50 of the United States this coalition can harness invaluable political scope and influence," the organization says. "To elevate a cause or to overturn policies that target black people in any one state or community, the group will draw on members with local connections to use their visibility and influence for good in theater and on the national stage."

The list of founding members includes Lisa Dawn Cave, Darius de Haas, Brandon Victor Dixon, Carin Ford, Capathia Jenkins, LaChanze, Adriane Lenox, Kenny Leon, Norm Lewis, Audra McDonald, Michael McElroy, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Wendell Pierce, Billy Porter, Phylicia Rashad, Allyson Tucker, Tamara Tunie, Lillias White, NaTasha Yvette Williams, Schele Williams, and Vanessa Williams.

"As members of the black theatre community we stand together to help protect black people, black talent, and black lives of all shapes and orientations in theatre and communities across the country," they said. "Our voices are united to empower our community through activism in the pursuit of justice and equality for the betterment of all humanity. We need every voice lifted and every heart opened, aligned with ours to fight against racist ideologies that have divided us by devaluing our lives. We will not be silent. We will be seen. We will be heard. We are here. Join Us."

The organization will partner with the census organization Fair Count, and will kick off on June 17 with a virtual holistic happy hour where Audra McDonald and Phylicia Rashad will discuss what it means as Black women to show up for their community while still prioritizing their overall health. It is also partnering with the organization Harness to launch the #BeCounted campaign, which will aim to boost participation of hard-to-count communities in the 2020 Census.

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