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Black Women on Broadway Awards Set Return Date; ‘Some Like It Hot,’ ‘Six the Musical’ Stars Among Honorees (Exclusive)


The Black Women on Broadway Awards return after last year’s successful inaugural in-person event.

Dedicated to celebrating the legacy and achievements of black women in the Broadway community, the 2023 BWOB Awards will honor three talents for their work at the highest level of commercial live theater on June 5 at New York’s Knickerbocker Hotel in the U.S.

“We saw at our freshman party how necessary it was, how people left in tears and so elated to be in a space where they didn’t have to be anything but the black women that they are. There was such freedom in the room, a vulnerability not often felt,” BWOB co-founder, The piano lesson star and Tony nominee Danielle Brooks narrates The Hollywood Reporter about the group’s decision to return for 2023.

Among this year’s honorees Some love it when it’s hotNatasha Yvette Williams, recipient of the Audra McDonald Legacy Award; Six the musical‘s Joy Woods, receiving the Florence Mills Shining Star Award; and wig designer Nikiya Mathis, who was selected for the Kathy A. Perkins Behind The Curtain Award.

Like the inaugural honorees, the 2023 recipients were selected as a way to highlight the history — that which has already been made and what is now being made — of black women in the live theater space. “Natasha has been here for a long time and we are very excited to give her her flowers. Nikiya has been doing hair on Broadway and off-Broadway for years, but is also an actor. And Joy Woods is on the rise, was in Six and is now in Small horror shop. She is the first black woman to play Audrey full-time in the 2019 revival,” explained Brooks.

The Audra McDonald Legacy Award and Kathy A. Perkins Behind The Curtain Awards are both dedicated veterans of the stage, but the Florence Mills Shining Star Award takes a broader approach. “Our goal was to make sure we’re highlighting someone who’s been leading the way for a while; which has not always been seen; that deserves that space — or to be held space for,” Brooks says of the group’s approach to the awards. “But our Shining Star Award is for someone who is on their way to that, and for us that doesn’t always have to be an actress.”

The award ceremony, which is an offshoot of the Black Women on Broadway Instagram account launched in June 2020 by The color purple actress, Amber Iman and Jocelyn Bioh, is one of the few places in the theater community that not only explicitly celebrates the talents of black women in the New York industry, but also elevates those who work on stage and beyond. Because the BWOB Awards are only in their second year, Brooks says the group doesn’t yet have the resources to invite every black woman “involved in the Broadway scene,” but expects about 150 to attend.

“Our goal is to always make an effort to make our guest list 50 percent talent and 50 percent behind the scenes. We know that we, as actors, are normally the ones that get celebrated, but there’s an abundance of people helping to make this happen. That’s stage management, business executives, that’s casting, that’s producers, that’s swings. We want us all to be in space together and hold space together,” Brooks says of how the show views its honor.

From left: Danielle Brooks, Audra McDonald, LaChanze, Amber Iman and Jocelyn Bioh at the 2022 Black Women on Broadway Awards.

Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for CRM Mgm

Much like the BWOB Instagram account, the awards ceremony — which Brooks says she, Iman and Bioh see as an annual event — serves not only as a point of reference for the diverse (and sometimes historically erased) achievements of black women in the theater industry. work, but as a place of commune and community.

“These awards can be super calculated and very political. That is not our goal here,” says Brooks. “We are working very hard not just to focus on the pop-y, eye-catching shows that are being produced, but to focus on all of the shows. I think of the women inside The lionking who have been there for years. We see them too. So that remains our goal: to treat people the way we want to be treated in this industry. To see people as we want to be seen.”

“For me, celebrating people who might feel like the underdog gets me excited,” she adds. “Who – only their pure being – is worth celebrating.”

Part of how the trio lives up to that ethos is through (historically virtual) mentorship opportunities and ceremony-based volunteer opportunities, with more than eight black female students gaining hands-on experience last year.

“I feel just like black women, a lot of times we don’t even know how to get past the actor. We don’t get these mentorships on how to produce or how to be a stage manager. We don’t get access,” says Brooks THR. “So if we can do that by getting young artists involved or by building these mentorship programs and fellowship opportunities that we started during the pandemic and now hope to get the funds to do personally, I think we’ll definitely have an advantage will see in the coming years.”

“It can be in the little moments when someone’s desire to work in this industry shifts,” she adds. “The career path they had can totally change based on just one encounter – one chance, one conversation – they had. So if we can do that, then I think we’ve done our job.”

Last year’s inaugural awards ceremony honored Lynn Nottage, Qween Jean and Kara Young, and was sponsored by Morgan Stanley, Mark Gordon Pictures, the Broadway Advocacy Coalition, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids, Adrienne Warren, Door 24, Creative Partners Productions, Fourth Wall Theatrical and PGIM.

The co-founders of BWOB are still in the trenches and “basic stages” of their second iteration, with Brooks, Iman and Bion “leading all of this and raising the funds themselves”, in between their many professional and personal commitments. “I’m running around here with my three-year-old. So much is happening,” laughs Brooks. “But the need for this space is so important that we always have to make room for it. Even though it can be very challenging to get it going.”

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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