Right now, the world is looking to its leaders to show them the way forward, but Broadway is sadly silent.
Every million dollar organization in the world invests in molding its management into quality leaders who know how to communicate and build up their company, leaders who eventually know how to acknowledge, validate, and compassionately turn their employees into leaders. It also benefits the owners and CEOs of these businesses to build their employees up into leaders themselves!
Yet Broadway has no systems in place for its leadership.
There is no training of this kind for producers, stage managers, and company managers even though they are in charge of handling hundreds of people's livelihoods and stories. Sure, there are unions, but their focus is on advocating for labor contracts, NOT how the industry as a whole responds in times of crisis.
And right now is such a time.
Broadway is an idea that so many people (including myself) are inspired to dream about and eventually capitalize on by forging careers around it. It’s in the actions we take in Broadway’s name that create a disparity. This is where the racism begins, and change has to start from the top down (as it does with every conglomeration of people - from governments to businesses to us).
There is a long history here of white people making money off of the stories and creative work of black artists without giving them the credit or representation they are due.
Broadway MUST learn to hire creative leaders that know how to lead and represent ALL of the people involved in a production, especially the vulnerable souls of the artists telling those stories. Producers have a responsibility to create safe, non-hostile and especially inclusive work environments.
These things don’t happen because our “higher-ups” are ill-intentioned but because there is no proper structure and training to model, and that needs to change. Google invests in their leaders' further education to improve their leadership abilities, and what about including HR in the equation to help our company?
Look, I still believe that Broadway is and always has been a place that wants everyone to belong and is always striving to do better at all times. Broadway is a place where everyone is welcome, so we must do better to help our black actors, singers, dancers, musicians, crew, etc. be seen and heard.
As actors (and human beings), we have a capacity and the ability to speak up. I'm begging you, please don’t be afraid to use your voice! Silence is complicity, and we each can be leaders if we make the decision to do so.
I think investing in Broadway should be investing in leaders who look like us and know how to lead. Broadway should demand that all stage managers, producers, company managers, etc. have quality leadership training like any other million dollar business.
The unions must uphold their rules of keeping the company and their jobs safe, so artists aren’t afraid to say to someone in a leadership position, “That is not right,” without fear of losing their jobs. And these policies must exist not just on paper but in practice in real life.
That’s why I am putting my money where my mouth is and starting with the Broadway Life family.
All the profits from our newest Broadway Life Apparel T-Shirt design "I Belong" will be donated to the Arts Administrators of Color Network. I want to see the leadership change not only in spirit but in race as well. We cannot continue the antiquated method of telling people’s stories that aren’t ours to tell, and we cannot continue to lead artists when we aren’t qualified or trained to do so.
When Broadway comes back, and it will, I pray that our Broadway community invests in creating true leaders at the top, but most importantly, by building up and investing in the true leaders on stage and backstage.
This week, join me for an exciting town hall event called Broadway for Black Lives Matter. Come join this three-part forum from June 10-12 designed for our community to heal and hold itself accountable to its history of white supremacy. Listen. Use your voice. Let’s lead together.
I’ll see you there!
And as always, let me know your thoughts on this blog by posting inside the Broadway Life Facebook Group.