Following the national outcry for racial equality, a new coalition has been annouced in efforts to combat systemic racism within the theater industry. Black Theatre United (BTU) is centered on the shared experience, heritage and culture of the Black diaspora and is founded to influence widespread reform.
BTU's founding members include Black actors, directors, musicians, writers, technicians, producers and stage managers: 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.
“As members of the Black theater community, we stand together to help protect Black people, Black talent and Black lives of all shapes and orientations in theater and communities across the country," the founding members said in a statement. "Our voices are united to empower our community through activism in the pursuit of justice and equality for the betterment of all humanity. We will not be silent. We will be seen. We will be heard. We are here. Join us.”
Over 150 members of the Black theater community are standing in solidarity with BTU including Tituss Burgess, Viola Davis, Daveed Diggs, Cynthia Erivo, Renée Elise Goldsberry, David Alan Grier, Samuel and LaTanya Jackson, Leslie Uggams, Blair Underwood, Adrienne Warren and more.
BTU is a nonprofit social advocacy organization devoted to mobilizing awareness, ensuring accountability, undertaking advocacy and inspiring action. Its first initiatives will lay the groundwork for implementing substantive changes in politics, communities and the theater itself.
BTU has already partnered with with Fair Count, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization founded by former Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams. On Wednesday, June 17, BTU founding members McDonald and Rashad will join Fair Count for “Sisters Sip,” a virtual Zoom holistic happy hour where they’ll discuss what it means as Black women to show up for their community while still prioritizing their overall health. BTU is also partnering with Harness, a nonprofit started by America Ferrera, Wilmer Valderrama and Ryan Piers Williams to engage artists in social change. BTU member Kenny Leon will take part in upcoming Harness awareness efforts relating to the Census.
Watch the announcement video below and be sure to learn more by clicking here.