Diversity in Theater Starts By Nurturing Young People of Color: ‘Hamilton’ Star

“Hamilton” star Christopher Jackson believes that the playing field on Broadway will eventually become more inclusive, but only if we begin to nurture young composers, theater makers, and actors of color.

Jackson, who played George Washington in “Hamilton,”‘s Broadway run and the film version, says he has been part of predominantly Black cast shows in his career.

“I was in ‘The Lion King’ in ’97, the original company. It was a Black show. One of the largest Black casts ever put on a Broadway stage. We’re 18 years later, you know, or you know or however many years later, I’ve only ever really been in Black shows,” Jackson said.

But Jackson knows that’s not the norm.

“If you juxtapose that with the number of shows that are that are sort of following the classic canon, what you would you begin to see is that it’s really about the fact that creative people of color need to be given an opportunity,” Jackson said.

Jackson says it needs to happen during the formative years.

“That fostering happens in grade school. That fostering happens in high school and then in college. These children have to be, you know, aware that there is a space for them so that they have something to aspire to. Right? Lin went and saw ‘Les Miz’ when he was in high school. You know, he went and saw ‘Rent’ when he was later on – years later, that mind is already at work. Right? That mind doesn’t know that mind is a playwright until he gets to college. But that wheel those wheels have already been spinning,” Jackson said.

He rejects the idea of simply casting Black actors in traditionally white roles.

“The real way that you start to see some change in Hollywood is not by state _ or on Broadway or in Hollywood, for that matter. It’s not by staging an all-black cast of ‘The Music Man.’ They did that in the ’70s. That’s not where that is. We need our Sondheim. We need our (John) Kander. We need our Fred Rodgers. We need the access to the ability to see ourselves in that position.”

“Hamilton” premieres Friday (3 JULY 2020) on Disney Plus.

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