women of color in musical theatre

“The more of us there are that are visible, the more commonplace it will become to people, and after a while, people aren’t even going to think twice about it..I play Laura Osnes’s stepsister [in Cinderella], the daughter of Harriet Harris, and the sister of Marla Mindelle, and not one person, not one reviewer, not one human being has ever said to me, ‘How is that possible? You are Asian’, you know. It’s just accepted. And I sort of feel like if we can just get to that place with every show, we wouldn’t have a problem. But, you know, we have to just keep saying, ‘We’re here, we are here.’

- Ann Harada

I was so excited because I was seeing the first black performer to play Eponine, Shanice. I was completely blown away. I felt like I could have been the only person in the theater as if this story was being told just for me. It was romantic and dangerous and the music was lush and it was everything I ever wanted. It was all that much sweeter because one of those girls looked like me. I could picture myself running through the streets of Paris and fighting on the barricade and now I get to do it for real. That performance is one of the most vivid memories I have or seeing theater as a young hopeful actor and theater lover. I still can’t really believe that I am going be part of this show’s rich history. I just hope that I will be able to give just one young theater-goer the same kind of experience I had when I first saw the show.
—  Nikki M. James