Several Black members of the theatre community have come together to form Black Theatre United, a newly launched coalition of performers, directors, writers, technicians, producers, stage managers, and more to inspire industry-wide reform and to combat industry-wide systemic racism.
BTU's mission places four goals center stage: awareness, accountability, advocacy, and action. Using their various local connections across the U.S., the coalition will work at both a community level and national scale to elevate anti-racist causes, while also supporting fellow Black members of the theatre community through various resources and initiatives.
Among its founding members are Lisa Dawn Cave, Darius de Haas, Brandon Victor Dixon, Carin Ford, Capathia Jenkins, LaChanze, Adriane Lenox, Kenny Leon, Norm Lewis, Audra McDonald, Michael McElroy, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Wendell Pierce, Billy Porter, Phylicia Rashad, Allyson Tucker, Tamara Tunie, Lillias White, NaTasha Yvette Williams, Schele Williams, and Vanessa Williams.
Members are joined by such artists as Viola Davis, Danielle Brooks, Daveed Diggs, Cynthia Erivo, Renée Elise Goldsberry, David Alan Grier, Samuel and LaTanya Jackson, Delroy Lindo, Leslie Uggams, and Adrienne Warren in an introductory PSA; take a look above.
"Our voices are united to empower our community through activism in the pursuit of justice and equality," the group says in the video. "We will not be silent. We will be seen. We will be heard. We are here. Join us."
Two of BTU's first major initiatives focus on the 2020 census and ensuring that minority communities are represented. Tony winners McDonald and Rashad will take part in the Stacey Abrams-founded Fair Count's "Sisters Sip" Zoom happy hour June 17; the group will also partner with Harness (started by America Ferrera, Wilmer Valderrama, and Ryan Piers Williams) to launch their #BeCounted campaign.
The group's theatre-driven objectives include the formation of an inquiry committee to assess past practices in the industry, as well as the development of mentorship, scholarship, and internship opportunities for Black youth.
BTU is organized as a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization. Black theatre community members and allies alike are encouraged to join; visit BlackTheatreUnited.com.
The group's announcement comes on the heels of the Broadway Advocacy Coalition's Broadway for Black Lives Matter Again, a three-day forum held amid continued protests and calls for justice in the wake of the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and more.