Tony Award Nominee Valisia LeKae Departs Broadway's Motown to Undergo Treatment for Ovarian Cancer

By Adam Hetrick
17 Dec 2013

Valisia LeKae
Valisia LeKae

Tony Award nominee Valisia LeKae, who originated the role of Diana Ross in the Berry Gordy musical Motown earlier this year, has departed the production to undergo treatment for ovarian cancer.

The 34-year-old actress went public with her diagnosis in a Dec. 17 post on her Facebook page. "On Nov. 22, 2013, I had laparoscopic surgery to remove an endometrioma from my right ovary. A sample was taken from that endometrioma and on Dec. 2, 2013, my pathology results [revealed] that I was positive for Ovarian Clear Cell Carcinoma, Ovarian Cancer. After receiving a second opinion it was confirmed by my Gynecologic Oncologist on Dec. 9, 2013, that the diagnosis had been correct," she wrote. "Per the advice of my doctor, I will need to have another surgery (unilateral salpingo-oophorectomy) as well as chemotherapy. I am scheduled for Thursday (Dec. 19, 2013 ) and chemotherapy soon thereafter."

LeKae said she was compelled to come forward with her diagnosis to educate younger women about the disease that most commonly develops in older women. "As a 34 year old, African American woman, I feel that it is important that I share my story in order to educate and encourage others about this disease and the fight against it," she continued. "2013 has been full of blessings, from being nominated for a prestigious Tony Award for my portrayal of 'Diana Ross' in Motown The Musical as well as many other accolades. God has given me another role to play and like all my previous roles, I plan to go all in, only this time I plan to Win!"

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Valisia during this challenging time, and we, along with the entire Motown the Musical family, are hoping for a complete and speedy recovery," producers said in a statement.



Read LeKae's recent Playbill interview about playing Diana Ross here. 

Felicia Boswell, who starred in the national tour of Memphis, has stepped into the role of Diana Ross.

The production, produced by Gordy, Tony winner Kevin McCollum (Rent, In the Heights, Avenue Q) and Sony Music CEO Doug Morris, opened on Broadway April 14 at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. Read the reviews here.

Charles Randolph-Wright directs Motown, which is brimming with songs made famous by Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, Diana Ross and The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, Michael Jackson and The Jackson Five.

According to producers, "Motown tells the gripping story behind the hits as Smokey finds his unique voice, Diana skyrockets to stardom and Berry fights against the odds to turn his improbable dream into a triumphant reality. The music that shattered barriers and shaped our lives finally comes to the Broadway stage in the season's most highly anticipated world-premiere event."

Visit MotownTheMusical.com.

 

Watch highlights from Motown here!