Colman Domingo has been a staple of the New York theatre scene and a standout in film and television for years. And yet, as he publicly declared in his June 2 guest column for Deadline, that by no means exempts him from insidious racism due to the color of his skin.
Domingo made his Broadway debut on stage in Lisa Kron’s play Well in 2006. He went on to perform as part of the original casts of Passing Strange and The Scottsboro Boys (earning a Tony nomination for his portrayal of Mr. Bones in the musical about nine Black men falsely accused of, charged with, and jailed for the rape of two White women). He returned to Broadway in 2018 as the book writer on Summer: The Donna Summer Musical.
He is also an accomplished playwright and librettist, having authored such works as The Brother(s) Play, Lights Out: Nat King Cole, Dot, Wild With Happy, A Boy and His Soul, and Up Jumped Springtime.
Domingo reflects on his life as a Black artist in this moment.
“I create from a burning question that lives in my heart,” he begins. “Doesn’t matter the media. It has to be there as I have always used my work to shine a light on our humanity. In creating our musical Light’s Out: Nat King Cole, my comrade Patricia McGregor and I were delving deep into the subconscious of the legendary Nat King Cole. But ultimately we were uncovering our own personal truths as artists living in this world today. Black artists. The frustrations that we hold deep in our souls and we—as Nat believed— were required to act with grace. Nat King Cole believed that grace was his most powerful weapon. I believed that, too. I still do, to a point. But if anyone did deeper digging on Nat King Cole, they would find in an essay in Ebony Magazine in 1958, where, while discussing the demise of his television program The Nat King Cole Show, he famously stated that ‘Madison Avenue is Afraid of the Dark,’ one will see that there was a quiet rage and his greatest weapon would be his words.”
Domingo expressed the pain he feels now and has felt for years as a Black man in America. “It has always been in plain sight and NO ONE IS ALLOWED TO STAY SILENT,” he wrote. “It isn’t easy to live in this brown body. I am talking to all my friends and colleagues to say, yes, this is a problem and it has always been here. I have never had the privilege to think otherwise. This world has repeatedly shown me.”
He notes that any thought that his “celebrity” protects him is a mirage.
“You might think that when one is a public person that it cancels out the fear. My black friends know better.” And he calls for action: “Everyone is overdue to stand up for what is right. Use your voices to say loudly that Black Lives Matter.”
Domingo is a 2020 Juilliard School creative associate; a Tony, Lawrence Olivier, Drama Desk, Drama League and NAACP Theatre Award nominee; and Obie and Lucille Lortel Award-winning actor, playwright, director and producer. Domingo stars in A24’s Zola, The God Committee alongside Kelsey Grammar and Julia Stiles, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom alongside Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman, produced by Denzel Washington, and MGM’s Candyman written and produced by Jordan Peele. Domingo recently starred on The Twilight Zone for CBS All Access and recurs on the critically acclaimed Euphoria on HBO. He stars on AMC's global hit Fear the Walking Dead as Victor Strand. Domingo is a recipient of The Best Drama Actor from The 2018 Independent Television Festival presented by the Television Academy in Nothingman directed by Eli Kooris and Joshua Shaffer. Domingo is a recent recipient of the Sundance Feature Film Program Grant. Domingo, his creative partner Alisa Tager, and AMC Networks are currently developing an original drama series for television titled West Philly, Baby, which he will write, direct, and executive produce. He is also at work on an untitled half-hour comedy for HBO, which he will produce with Sarah Jessica Parker’s Pretty Matches.