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Lillias White To Star In Phylicia Rashad Directed Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Jazmine Harper-Davis

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We’ve been feeling down after going through what seems to be the black Broadway purge of 2k16. However, if there is anything that could give us some joy over here at Broadway Black, it’s the Center Theatre Group‘s casting for their production of August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom starring Lillias White as Ma Rainey, directed by Phylicia Rashad. Performances are set to run from August 31-October 16 with an official September 11 opening at The Mark Taper Forum in LA.

In the third installment of Wilson’s ten-play Century Cycle, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom depicts the racism and exploitation in the music industry through a 1927 recording session in Chicago with a legendary blues singer, inspired by the real-life Gertrude “Ma” Rainey.

Rounding out the cast is Tony nominee Keith David (Jelly’s Last Jam) as Slow Drag, Jason Dirden (A Raisin in the Sun) as Levee, Glynn Turman (A Raisin in the Sun) as Toledo, Damon Gupton (Clybourne Park) as Cutler, Matthew Henerson  as Sturdyvant, Nija Okoro as Dussie Mae, Lamar Richardson as Sylvester, Ed Swidey as Irvin, and Greg Bryan as Policeman.

The creative team will include scenic design by John Iacovelli, costume design by Emilio Sosa, lighting design by Elizabeth Harper, and sound design by Dan Moses Schreier.

Tickets for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom are available online here or by calling (213) 628-2772. Tickets range from $25 – $85 (ticket prices are subject to change). The Mark Taper Forum is located at the Music Center, 135 N. Grand Avenue in Downtown L.A. 90012.

If you are in LA, do not miss this amazing production, also please let Broadway be the next destination we could use more color.

Here’s a little taste of how Lillias snatches wigs!

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Get Your War Clothes On: Billy Porter Energizes in GLAAD Acceptance Speech

Jerrica White

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billy porter

So, I have a question.

In the same line of thought as “innocent until proven guilty,” do we grant the assumption of positive intent in our expectations of our brothers and sister in regards to woke-ness, à la woke until proven problematic?

Now don’t get me wrong, there was no doubt in my heart that Tony and Grammy Award-winner, Billy Porter, was woke. Nope, none. What I wasn’t ready for, was the way he fixed his fingers to pen one of the greatest acceptance speeches of my lifetime, and how he turned the Gospel classic “I Don’t Feel No Ways Tired” into a battle song.

The 28th Annual GLAAD Media Awards honored Billy Porter with the Vito Russo Award, presented to an openly LGBTQ media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting equality and acceptance.

He started by affirming the room full of members of marginalized communities, with my personal daily mantra: “You are enough. we are enough.”

Since the beginning of time artists are the folks who engage critically and encourage those who think they are powerless to question the status quo.

Brothers and sisters across the room leaned in.

The days of shut up and sing are over.

Alliteration informed and illustrated as Porter preached on remaining “vigilantly visual” as we tell our stories. Acknowledging the reality of our times, he spoke on Number 45:

Where they slipped up this time is in that declaration of war. It’s not only against Black and Brown people and Queer people anymore, it’s against ALL of us. And as a result, the good news is: white folk, and straight folk, and all those fierce women folk, are mad now. And NOW maybe something might get done!

Get. Your. War. Clothes. On.

From slavery to emancipation, to the 13th Amendment, to Jim Crow, to the Civil Rights Movement. From Stonewall to AIDS, to marriage equality— we gotta remember the shoulders who we stand on—the ones who fought and died for those freedoms that we hold so dear. Let’s use these historical strides we’ve made as a nation to empower us as warriors on this battlefield of equality.

Amen.

Until we can figure out how to love one another unconditionally, no one wins. Freedom. Equality. Justice. Have always come at a cost and evidently the always will.

If that’s not the truth.

Stay strong. Stay vigilante. Stay visible. Stay hopeful. Stay focused. Be brave. Be fierce.

Resist.

RESIST.

RESIST.

RESIST.

For a full list of this year’s winners, honorees, and guests, visit GLAAD.

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How Do We Feel

Jazmine Sullivan: The Next Singer-Songwriter To Write A Broadway Musical?

Jerrica White

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jazmine sullivan

We recently caught up with Jazmine Sullivan at The HeLa Project, a multimedia exhibition inspired by the HBO film, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

Like the rest of us, Jazmine is in awe of the under-told story of Henrietta Lacks and her instrumental role in modern medicine. We further asked about why she got involved with the project and she said: “Anyway I can give light to an extraordinary woman like that, I’m there.”

Some of the integral women in bringing this story to light have their roots in Broadway: Tony Award-winning producer Oprah Winfrey, who not only stars in the film, but also credited as executive producer, and Tony Award winner Renée Elise Goldsberry, who portrays the title character.

We wouldn’t be Broadway Black if we didn’t keep it real.

Let’s be honest, we can’t get enough of 11-year-old Jazmine singing “Home” like she wrote the piece, so we got to asking, and it turns out Jazmine wouldn’t mind putting her pen to paper to create a musical for the Broadway stage.

She said performing on Broadway isn’t in the plans for the near future but, “You never know! I love writing and creating characters!”

God!? Oprah!?!? Stephen Byrd & Alia Jones-Harvey?!?! Who’s going to snatch this up?

Until then, it sounds like we have some new music to expect. What kind of musical would you like to see from Ms. Sullivan? Sound off below in the comments!

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