How Black Theatre Coalition Helped Nia Arrington-Seward Find Her Voice as a Manager | Playbill

Special Features How Black Theatre Coalition Helped Nia Arrington-Seward Find Her Voice as a Manager

As part of her BTC fellowship, Arrington-Steward spent the season working as a manager on Good Night, Oscar and Broadway Celebrates Juneteenth.

Nia Arrington-Seward

For Nia Arrington-Seward, a career in the theatre industry used to seem limited, until she became a fellow for Black Theatre Coalition, which " showed me that there were so many ways I can be a part of a show, so many ways that I can utilize my talents to be a part of the magic that is Broadway," she says. In celebration of Juneteenth, Playbill is partnering with BTC to spotlight some must-know BIPOC artists all week. For today's entry, we spoke with Arrington-Seward, who completed a BTC/Broadway Across America Programming and Operations Fellowship in early 2023. 

The Black Theatre Coalition was founded by T. Oliver Reid, Warren Adams, and Reggie Van Lee in 2019. It works to "remove the "Illusion of Inclusion" in the American Theatre, by building a sustainable ethical roadmap that will increase employment opportunities for Black theatre professionals." The BTC Fellowship selects upcoming theatre professionals to be immersed in the industry of theatrical production, in fields such as management, directing, choreographing, and more.   

After her BTC Fellowship, Arrington-Seward now works as an Assistant Company Manager (Broadway's Good Night, Oscar) and an Associate General Manager (Broadway Celebrates Juneteenth) at Foresight Theatrical. She was recently accepted as a 2023-2024 Producing Fellow at New York Theatre Workshop. See what Arrington-Seward has to say about her fellowship and its impact on her life and career below.

Nia Arrington-Seward performing on stage

Where did you grow up?
Nia Arrington-Seward: I was born in Harlem and got all my theater Training from Harlem School of the Arts.

What was your first experience/memory with theatre?
Playing Cindy Lou Who in Seussical.

What was your first Broadway show?
Good Night, Oscar is the Broadway show I've worked on and Wicked is the first Broadway show I've ever seen. 

Are you a current Fellow/Apprentice or were you one previously?
Recent 2023 Broadway Across America/Black Theatre Coalition fellow. 

What is your specialty?
Currently an assistant company manager and associate general manager. 

Where do you work currently? 
Currently I’m working at Foresight Theatrical, and I just got accepted as a 23/24 Producing Fellow at New York Theatre Workshop. 

Tell us more about your work/fellowship. 
What I love about my position at Foresight is that it gives me the opportunity to explore the full breadth of theatre management. When I’m working as the Assistant Company Manager for Good Night, Oscar, I get full exposure to the intricacies of communicating with various unions, reviewing budgets, and running the day-to-day operations of a Broadway show. Recently, I was one of the Associate General Managers for Broadway Celebrates Juneteenth. I have a hands-on approach with the rehearsal and casting process. I’m grateful because I get to see and learn exactly what it takes to put on a show!

How did your fellowship experience impact your career?
Primarily, my fellowship has taught me how expansive a career in Broadway can be. For so long I believed there were limited career options for a theatre nerd who just wanted to be a part of something bigger than themselves. BTC showed me that there were so many ways I can be a part of a show, so many ways that I can utilize my talents to be a part of the magic that is Broadway. 

How have you found navigating Broadway as a BTC Fellow?
I feel like BTC has given me credibility and helped me find my voice in a space where I otherwise would feel silenced.

What are some of your career goals & aspirations?
Ultimately, I would like to operate in a leadership position at a non-profit theater. I really got my arts administration start at Harlem School of the Arts so I would love to return to Harlem and continue the enrich theatrical legacy of the community. 

What do you feel BTC is helping you reach those goals?
BTC primarily has provided me with a massive support system. There are so many things you think are impossible until they’re actually are done: BTC gives me the launchpad I need to really take off and see just how far I can go.

As a BTC Fellow do you think your voice is heard in rooms that don't predominantly look like you?
I think the reputation of BTC is immaculate, and that in and of itself gives me a certain amount of credibility. Of course, I’m still young and new to this business, but just knowing that BTC thought I was adept enough. 

As a BTC Fellow, do you feel like you're making a difference behind the scenes on Broadway and in what's represented on stage?
I do, I feel like I am instrumental in bringing new perspectives to the frontline and helping to usher forward the next generation of theater. 

If you could change one thing about the industry, what would that be?
I would change the targeted demographic. Ultimately, there is a show out there for everyone and if we show the world that Broadway is for them, just as much as it is for the next person, I think it will have a huge impact on the evolution of the industry.

How are you celebrating Juneteenth this year?
I’ve got soo much planned! I have a few cookouts, a cotillion, and I’ll be performing in a step show with my sorority sisters! 

The Black Theatre Coalition (BTC) is a 501(c)3 organization with the mission to remove the illusion of inclusion in the American Theatre, by building a sustainable, ethical roadmap that will increase employment opportunities for emerging, mid-career, and career-changing Black theater professionals. Through paid Fellowship and Apprenticeship opportunities, BTC opens doors for aspiring artists and creative leaders to have entry into the field, on-the-job-training, mentorship and potential career advancement. BTC's vision is to reshape the working ecosystem for those who have historically been marginalized from these spaces, and provide a pathway to true diversity in the arts.

To celebrate Juneteenth, BTC is aiming to raise $19,000 in support of the organization and future BTC fellows. Visit their Donation Page to help support.

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