Broadway isn't exactly a shining example of diversity, but you aren't going to see #TonysSoWhite anytime soon.

Only one African-American woman has ever earned the Academy Award for Best Actress. One. (In fact, you can see all of the African-American Oscar winners for acting and most of their speeches in this video that's less than five minutes long.)

Meanwhile, Broadway has celebrated actors, writers, choreographers, and directors of color on the stage for decades, with several big names earning multiple awards in their lifetime — a feat few Hollywood actors of color have been able to achieve.


Left to right: Patina Miller, Cicely Tyson, and Billy Porter at the 2013 Tony Awards. Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images.

Here are three easy lessons Hollywood can learn from Broadway.

Because if the Great White Way can make money telling stories by and about people from traditionally underrepresented groups, then why can't Hollywood?



Lin-Manuel Miranda (left) performs with the cast of his 2008 hit "In the Heights." Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images.

1. White, straight Americans aren't the only ones living the human experience.

It seems obvious, but sadly, many Hollywood insiders still don't get it. Broadway is winning by sharing and celebrating the rich stories, traditions, and cultures of traditionally underrepresented people.

Whether it's the cruel injustice faced by Japanese-Americans in internment camps during World War II, as depicted in George Takei's biographical musical, "Allegiance"...

Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images.

Or the story of five women during Liberia's civil war in the upcoming "Eclipsed." Written by Danai Gurira (who you may know as Michonne from "The Walking Dead") and starring Lupita Nyong'o, it's the first Broadway production to boast an entirely black cast and all-female creative team.

Coming to #Broadway February 23rd. Tickets on sale today. #eclipsed #eclipsedplay @lupitanyongo @ladyzjah @vintagepopsoul @danaijekesaigurira @liesltommy @clintramos Photo: Joan Marcus
A photo posted by Eclipsed on Broadway (@eclipsedbway) on

Even seeing a familiar story through a different lens can be quite revolutionary. That's how Lin-Manuel Miranda made American history come alive in his hip-hop infused musical "Hamilton."

Miranda accepts the award for Best Musical Theater Album at the Grammys. Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images.

While the experiences may look unfamiliar on the outside, all of these stories hit themes that are deeply personal and universal: perseverance, love, and hope. And contrary to movie previews, white, straight people aren't the only ones who experience these things.

2. Challenge the status quo, rake in the dough.

(This one rhymes so you know it's true. )

While originality, writing, and creating new stories are important, Broadway has a long history of reviving older musicals and plays to offer a fresh take on these well-loved stories.

One way to breathe new life into long-running musicals and plays is with color-blind casting.

Actresses of color like Brandy Norwood and Carly Hughes have taken on the lead roles in the long-running Broadway classic "Chicago."

Hughes performs during a rehearsal for "Chicago." Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images.

In 2014, actor Norm Lewis took the stage as the 13th actor to play the phantom in "Phantom of the Opera" on Broadway. It was the 10,936th performance of the show, and Lewis was the first African - American in the role.

And in the summer of 2015, actor Kyle Jean-Baptiste became the youngest and first African - American actor to play the role of Jean Valjean in "Les Misérables."

Before and after shot. Today is my last performance as Valjean on Broadway. What an incredible experience. I've learned and grown so much. Grateful for the people I've met and this opportunity. I will never forget it. Dedicating this performance to someone special to me. They know who they are. Also sending love to everyone who supported me. Family friends etc. Until next time ..Kyle signing out...saudade❤️✌🏿️ #onedaymore#valjeanout#24601 @lesmizbway
A photo posted by Kyle Jean- Baptiste (@baptistekyle1) on

Sadly, just days after the end of his historic run, 21-year-old Jean-Baptiste died after falling from a fire escape.

Color-blind casting for these eminent roles is a great way to broaden the talent pool and opens up opportunities for actors of color. Plus it freshens up these long-running shows and gives customers new reasons to see them again and again. Or, in Hollywood terms, "cha-ching."

3. There's no such thing as niche. A good story can appeal to anyone.

The true story of a lesbian cartoonist telling the tale of her dysfunctional family, including her closeted father's suicide.

Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions.

A coming-of-age story based on a 19th century German play that touches on abortion, child abuse, and other tough themes, performed in English and American Sign Language.

Rehearsing, rehearsing, rehearsing (and more rehearsing!)
A photo posted by Deaf West Theatre (@deafwest) on

A musical based on the real story of a young man who turns his dead father's shoe company into a place to make stiletto heels for drag performers.

Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions.

These aren't small productions. These are synopses for "Fun Home," the revival of "Spring Awakening," and "Kinky Boots." "Fun Home" and "Kinky Boots" have both recouped their investments and cleaned up at the Tony Awards. And all three shows have or will soon begin national tours.

Considering the average ticket holder for a Broadway production is a middle-aged white woman from outside New York City, this is no small feat. It's a reminder that people don't need their characters to look or behave just like them because at heart, good stories are universal.

It's not hard, Hollywood.

All you need is a great story, millions of dollars, and a few people willing to take a chance on storytellers, actors, and creators who want to bring unique offerings to life. They won't all be hits, but that's a risk you're already taking.

At least this way, we'll get compelling stories; see representations of different cultures, traditions, and populations; and open ourselves up to greater empathy. Oh, and better movies. We'll definitely get better movies.

Now who's in?

GIF via "Hamilton."




True

It takes a special type of person to become a nurse. The job requires a combination of energy, empathy, clear mind, oftentimes a strong stomach, and a cheerful attitude. And while people typically think of nursing in a clinical setting, some nurses are driven to work with the people that feel forgotten by society.

Keep Reading Show less
via Pexels

The Emperor of the Seas.

Imagine retiring early and spending the rest of your life on a cruise ship visiting exotic locations, meeting interesting people and eating delectable food. It sounds fantastic, but surely it’s a billionaire’s fantasy, right?

Not according to Angelyn Burk, 53, and her husband Richard. They’re living their best life hopping from ship to ship for around $44 a night each. The Burks have called cruise ships their home since May 2021 and have no plans to go back to their lives as landlubbers. Angelyn took her first cruise in 1992 and it changed her goals in life forever.

“Our original plan was to stay in different countries for a month at a time and eventually retire to cruise ships as we got older,” Angelyn told 7 News. But a few years back, Angelyn crunched the numbers and realized they could start much sooner than expected.

Keep Reading Show less

Courtesy of Elaine Ahn

True

The energy in a hospital can sometimes feel overwhelming, whether you’re experiencing it as a patient, visitor or employee. However, there are a few one-of-a-kind individuals like Elaine Ahn, an operating room registered nurse in Diamond Bar, California, who thrive under this type of constant pressure.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Vasily Koloda on Unsplash

College graduates at Wiley College had more reasons than most to celebrate.

Imagine being at your college graduation, knowing you’ll soon be entering the “real” world under the massive weight of student loans—like 65% of all graduating students—when suddenly you hear the words:

“You are debt free.”

Sounds like a fantasy, right? For the graduating class of Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, the miracle was all too real.

During the college's commencement ceremony, Wiley’s president and CEO Dr. Herman J. Felton Jr. announced that thanks to an anonymous donor, the debt owed by the entire class had been fully paid off. That’s more than 100 students, with a debt total of around $300,000.
Keep Reading Show less

Dr. Alicia Jeffrey-Thomas teaches you how to pee.

A pelvic floor doctor from Boston, Massachusetts, has caused a stir by explaining that something we all thought was good for our health can cause real problems. In a video that has more than 5.8 million views on TikTok, Dr. Alicia Jeffrey-Thomas says we shouldn’t go pee “just in case.”

How could this be? The moment we all learned to control our bladders we were also taught to pee before going on a car trip, sitting down to watch a movie or playing sports.

The doctor posted the video as a response to TikTok user Sidneyraz, who made a video urging people to go to the bathroom whenever they get the chance. Sidneyraz is known for posting videos about things he didn’t learn until his 30s. "If you think to yourself, 'I don't have to go,' go." SidneyRaz says in the video. It sounds like common sense but evidently, he was totally wrong, just like the rest of humanity.

Keep Reading Show less