How Broadway Breaks Down the Racial Barriers That Hollywood Hasn't
This year on Broadway, a group of black women fought the odds and had their voices heard and stories told on some of the most famous stages in the country. Which is frustrating, because we are talking about America in the year 2016.
Historically speaking the Tony Awards are just as diverse as the Academy Awards, which is not very. White actors and actresses make up over 95 percent of all nominees. But this year on Broadway, 35 percent of all Tony nominees are people of color —among them Renée Elise Goldsberry, Danielle Brooks, and Danai Gurira, all of whom visited Vanity Fair recently to talk about their experiences this Broadway season.
"The theater world is ahead of the game when it comes to diversity, but it’s important to realize what diversity really means," Brooks says. "It's not just a black and white matter."
Months after the #oscarssowhite social-media campaign led to substantial changes at the Academy Awards, Hollywood's diversity seems virtually unchanged. On Broadway, however, actresses like Goldsberry, Brooks, and fellow nominees Lupita Nyong’o and Cynthia Erivo have played a wide range of characters with stunning depth, proving just how much actresses of color can accomplish when given the chance.
“It is up to individuals who hold positions of power to look around themselves and take a look at their patterns,” Gurira, the playwright of "Eclipsed," told Vanity Fair.
When it comes to matters of race, we often take one step forward and then two steps back. Where every success is later footnoted by a regression. When Halle Berry became the first African-American to win a best-actress Oscar, she believed it was a watershed moment.
Today, she calls it “heartbreaking” that she remains the only African-American woman to have won the award. If American stories are going to be told, it should be done in a way that reflects our country, not as it was, but as it is now, which is why stories like "Hamilton," "The Color Purple," and "Eclipsed" are so important.
VIDEO: Danai Gurira’s Motivations as a Playwright
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• The Tony's Were Quiet on Orlando, But Still Said a Lot
• "Hamilton" Cast Thinks Kanye West Should Replace Lin-Manuel Miranda When He Leaves
• James Corden Opens Tony Awards With Heartfelt Orlando Tribute
• Tony Awards Will Be Dedicated To Victims of Orlando Shooting
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Kevin Mazur