Broadway’s Christian Dante White Wears the Pressure and Responsibility of Being an Out Black Actor With Pride

Playbill Pride   Broadway’s Christian Dante White Wears the Pressure and Responsibility of Being an Out Black Actor With Pride
 
The My Fair Lady star talks taking on classic theatre roles from a different perspective.
Christian Dante White
Christian Dante White Marc J. Franklin

Christian Dante White didn’t grow up worshipping at the altar of musical theatre—but that hasn’t prevented him from carving out a niche for himself in top-notch revivals of Golden Age classics.

Now in Lincoln Center Theater’s My Fair Lady eight times a week as Freddy Eynsford-Hill, White was previously seen on Broadway in The Scottsboro Boys, The Book of Mormon, Shuffle Along, and Hello, Dolly!, serving as Gavin Creel’s understudy in the latter. And he intends to do plenty more.

Christian Dante White
Christian Dante White Marc J. Franklin

“Since I started my career, I never let my color or my sexual orientation stop me,” the out actor explains. “I just get in the room and do my best work. Let them say no, I’m never going to say no to myself.”

Along the way, his generous and caring nature—and remarkable talent—have led to longtime professional relationships that continue to bear fruit. “[Producer] Scott Rudin and I built a relationship with Book of Mormon to Shuffle Along, and he pushed for me to be Gavin’s understudy,” he says, adding that earning opportunities that usually go to white performers does give him an added sense of responsibility.

“I feel a responsibility to be out and proud,” he says. “It’s important to have all kinds of representations. I’m out, loud and proud. I can feel it when I bow—I’m the only gay principal of color. I’m the only one out there, so I feel that added pressure and that added responsibility. I know it’s a big deal and I wear it with pride, filling that void and being that representation onstage.”

And certainly his performance, alone on the stage singing the beloved “On the Street Where You Live,” gives many theatregoers an entirely new theatrical experience they will savor for years.

“When that gorgeous, huge orchestra hits and I’m singing the last part of that song… there’s nothing greater than singing a gorgeous ballad like that at the Vivian Beaumont,” he says. “But I’m also really spoiled because everyone knows that song so well, it always gets such a beautiful response. So I know it’s not me, it’s the song, but it really is special. Not only to be making my Lincoln Center Theater debut but in this show with that song? I really don’t take it for granted.”

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