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David Alan Grier Gives A “Massa Class”

Broadway Black

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The cowardly lion has shed his mane! Last week, David Alan Grier stopped by A&E’s Black & White to share some pro-acting tips. The actor stopped by the show to highlight the night with a little humor and reflect on the days of acting past. When asked about opportunities for people of color at the start of his career he said, “I’ve been acting over thirty years…There were nine hundred fifty thousand black folks fighting for all those Roots roles and all that kinda stuff.”

Grier, who most recently starred in NBC’s The Wiz, is a veteran of the acting community. He is no stranger to shedding light on social issues. He’s graced the Broadway stage in both Race and Porgy & Bess; two Broadway classics that highlight issues of social justice and race. When asked to give aspiring actors some adivice Grier took the road less traveled and introduced us to David Alan Grier’s MassaClass. Grier promised to prepare actors to depict slaves worthy of the Chiwetel stamp of approval.

Whether you need to lift newborns into the high heavens or stand up to the white man, Grier’s got you covered. He nailed each and every stereotype that saturates Hollywood today. His comedic timing is made even more relevant when compared to the trifling decisions made in casting meetings every day. (I’m looking at you, Prince of Egypt).

Grier, as an actor, boasts a diverse career. He’s known for playing an array of characters on his variety show In Living Color, his rich contributions to dramatic acting and hilarious celebrity impressions. Although his career has been plentiful, Grier acknowledges the limited opportunities that are being offered to performers of color. “I feel like we have more opportunity across the board.” he responded when asked about diversity in acting, “We’re not where we should be, but we’re halfway there.”

His segment was pointed and honest in its depiction of the acting world. His outspokenness shows us that there is more work to be done, and there is no better time than now. Brilliance doesn’t stop at the end of a white page, there are stories about black people, for black people, that go far beyond slavery. Let us tell them.

This segment aired during the 2nd episode of Black & White on A&E Aug 03, 2016. The series aired 3 episodes total. You can watch them all HERE.

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TV Land

Cynthia Erivo Visits The Daily Show with Trevor Noah

Broadway Black

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Tony Award winner Cynthia Erivo was all smiles when she paid a visit to “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” on July 28th.

The comedian and host of the satirical news show on Comedy Central spent a portion of the interview fanboying over Erivo’s stunning portrayal of Celie in The Color Purple.

They continued to discuss the audiences’ reactions to the show, Erivo’s nerves on Tony night, and her many interactions with Oprah Winfrey, the musical’s producer, and original onscreen-Celie Whoopi Goldberg.

Having already seen the musical in January, Noah confessed that her acting was so convincing he didn’t realize she was a UK girl coming over to the US “to play a Southern girl,” thus prompting Erivo to sample some Southern twang.

Rumor has it Erivo wished to play one of the male roles in the Broadway smash Hamilton, a leap she isn’t opposed to. In addition, she’d like to see Tony winner Leslie Odom, Jr., who plays Aaron Burr until July 9th, as Celie.

They discussed the culture shock of the disparity of roles in the US vs. UK, with Erivo revealing there’s more of an opportunity to try new things than in London. “Brexit will help with that,” quipped Noah.

They went into depth about Brexit, and Erivo described her Nigerian-born parents, her mother’s move to the UK, as well as her childhood.

Noah wrapped up the interview by asking Erivo, “Are you crazy?” in awe of her ability to run a half-marathon, perform two shows, and her intense workout schedule.

Erivo challenged Noah to an arm-wrestling contest — naturally, she obliterated him.

Watch the entire interview here.

“The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” airs weeknights on Comedy Central at 11 PM ET.

The Color Purple currently plays at the Jacobs Theatre.

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Inspiration

Jenifer Lewis Sings #InTheseStreets, Shares Life Lessons With The Cast of Shuffle Along

Jazmine Harper-Davis

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I will start this off by saying, CAN SOMEONE WRITE JENIFER LEWIS HER OWN BROADWAY SHOW?

We are lucky to be in a Broadway season that is filled with diverse stories, and a time where social media reigns. Without the two of these things, we might have blocked our blessing by missing Jenifer Lewis sing and slay #InTheseStreets with the cast of Shuffle Along.

Yes, you heard me correctly, Jennifer Lewis and the cast of Shuffle Along SLAYING the hilarious impromptu #InTheseStreets. A song that was originally sung with Brandy and Roz Ryan.

The visit doesn’t just end with Ms. Lewis sharing stories of how the song originated or showing off her dancing skills. Lewis also spent time backstage to offer words of wisdom.

After singing their praises she asked if the cast was happy, which they all replied enthusiastically yes. “Do me a favor,” she says. “This is nice and all, but take care of each other.” Simple, yet important advice I think can be applied to anything really.

While Broadway is known for its great spectacle underneath it all is a family.  A community that needs every single person to be doing their job to the best of their ability. It’s not a one-person show, it’s a collaborative effort to ensure they are putting on the best possible show out there.

Jenifer Lewis got her start on Broadway fresh out of college in the production of Eubie! It means even more to her, we’re sure, to see a show that, in part, pays tribute to the rise of Eubie Blake. She also saw Book of Mormon this same day. Lewis was last seen as Motormouth Maybelle in Hairspray on the Broadway stage.

Check out the videos courtesy of Shuffle Along powerhouse Amber Iman below.

Sidenote: Auntie Jenifer STILL GOT IT.

 

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