Tony Award-nominated Smokey Joe’s Café star Brenda Braxton is planning a June 6 launch and signing party for her book, The Little Black Book of Backstage Etiquette.
The 2 PM June 6 event will be held at the Metropolitan Room, 34 W. 22nd St. in New York.
Braxton told Playbill, “The Little Black Book of Backstage Etiquette was born out of a few fresh young actors asking me a simple question: ‘How have you been able to stay relevant in show business (theatre in particular) for over 40 years?’ Their curiosity was so refreshing it led me to share some of my backstage stories and experiences, such as how I literally started out in the chorus and worked my way up to leading lady and Tony Award nominee. Or how launching my own production company allowed me to see theatre from the other side, as a producer. Not to mention coming up in a time when for some jobs I had to actually supply my own makeup, hair care products and hosiery because none was provided for brown-skinned dancers.”
Here’s a sample from the book, on dressers and wardrobe:
Your dresser is not: Your maid
Your personal assistant
Your dresser is there to help with your costumes and sometimes hair, so make sure you have all costume pieces and they fit properly. Dressers are your lifeline to the wardrobe supervisor, who is the lifeline to the costume designer. Any costume issues should be relayed in a calm manner.
Your costume should also be treated with respect. There should be no eating in your costume! Many times there are no replacements for costumes, so if you accidentally drop food on them it would cause a big problem. It’s helpful to have a bathrobe to put on if you must eat in costume.
Braxton said she hopes her advice helps younger actors to get over attitudes that may be holding them back. “I was stunned to find that they felt their generation was one that feels ‘entitled’ to everything, and that this bothered them. They shared with me that young performers nowadays feel they have arrived once they book their first show, and they were curious about how they could break away from that notion and really have a full and positive theatre experience that would keep taking them to the next level. I applaud them for asking questions and wanting to do better.”
Braxton said the book is part of her latest round of life goals, including finding ways “to empower women over 50 to seek their dreams and become the leading lady of their life.”
Braxton also did a stint as Velma Kelly in the long-running revival of Chicago, opposite Usher. Other Broadway credits include Jelly’s Last Jam, Cats, Legs Diamond, and the original production of Dreamgirls. She also has pursued a TV career that has included appearances on Nurse Jackie, Smash, and the film The Hurricane. Braxton received the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Living the Dream Award and the Josephine Baker Award from the National Council of Negro Women.
Her book was published by On Demand Publishing.
Braxton was a special guest performer on Playbill’s Broadway on the High Seas cruise to the Italian Riviera. Playbill’s inaugural river cruise along the Rhône River May 21–28 is sold out, but cabins are available for the Rhine River cruise in August 2017, featuring Seth Rudetsky, Andréa Burns, Faith Prince, Terrence Mann, Charlotte d’Amboise, and Santino Fontana. Playbill Travel is now also booking Broadway on the Danube River for November 2017, with celebrity guests to be announced. Visit PlaybillTravel.com for booking and information.