Tuesday, May 11 kicked off a three-part streaming event to combat racism and inequity in the Broadway community. The March on Broadway includes actors Laura Benanti, Stephanie J. Block, Sierra Boggess, Kelli O’Hara, and Celia Keenan-Bolger have joined March on Broadway’s fight against the treatment of minority Broadway workers.
The actors are each hosting guest speakers live to talk about the treatment of those with minority status on Broadway. Yesterday at 9AM, Lauren Benanti (@laurabenanti) talked with Davon Williams and Courtney Daniels about the Black Theatre Matters Bill, a monumental piece of legislation that has passed through the Actors’ Equity Association’s First Inaugural National Convention that stands poised to radically change the union and the industry at large.
Tonight, May 12, at 9PM, Stephanie J. Block (@stephaniejblock) will host Jaime Cepero, Shakina Nayfack, and L Morgan in a conversation centered around Trans, Non-Binary, and Gender Non-Conforming Artist inclusion in the theatre industry.
Tomorrow, May 13, at 2PM Sierra Boggess (@officialsierraboggess) will talk with Nattalyee Randall, Ryan J. Haddad, and Joshua Castille about Deaf and Disabled community within the theatre industry and its issues with accessibility. An ASL interpreter will be present for the duration of the livestream. Viewers are encouraged to participate in every conversation and share their thoughts.
The March on Broadway was held on April 22nd in protest against the Broadway League and the Actors’ Equity Association (AEA), the union for live theatre performers. The protest was a response to the inequitable treatment of marginalized communities and hoped to create change which would make Broadway a safer place to work when shows open.
The protest was also sparked by the Hollywood Reporter’s cover story about Scott Rudin, a Broadway and film producer with an Oscar, Emmy, Grammy, and 17 Tonys. Several interns have come out with horror stories about the way he treated them. Each was subject to nearly constant verbal and physical abuse. Kevin Ghram-Caso, Rudin’s executive assistant from 2008-2009, developed PTSD after working for the producer and later committed suicide.
The protest and live streams focus on the following five demands:
- Following Scott Rudin’s resignation from the Broadway League, the Actors’ Equity Association must take immediate action in adding him to the “Do Not Work” list.
- A full report on how the 2019-2020 Equity dues were spent and what percentage was spent to help conversations around diversity.
- A full list of organizations that AEA is working with to help Black, Indigenous, and POC feel safer.
- Specific plans of action and a timeline for how the Black Theatre Matters bill will be implemented as well as greater visibility on how the national council votes on policy.
- Working to achieve greater inclusion for Trans, Non-Binary, and Gender Non-Conforming union members. Working to achieve greater inclusion and accessibility for Deaf and Disabled union members.
Protest organizers Nattalyee Randall and Courtney Daniels said, “At a time where marginalized communities are doing most of the heavy lifting, it is essential for our allies to accept their role and position in dismantling white supremacy.”
Days after the Hollywood Reporter published the story on Rudin, the AEA and other entertainment industry unions released a joint statement speaking out against workplace harassment. On April 17, AEA asked Rudin to release his staff from NDAs, which force his assistants to remain anonymous or silent. A spokesperson for Rudin said “he is stepping back from his professional work, so that he can do the proper work to address these issues.”
Still, the fight is far from over. The Broadway League has not commented on the March on Broadway or Rudin’s abusive behavior. “Now can you believe what we have done in six days?” Courtney Daniels asks. “Now could you imagine what we could do in a month?” The streams are leading up to the meeting between the AEA and March on Broadway’s organizers on the 14th to talk about these demands.
We have a union that is interlocked in supremacy. We are tired of the town halls. We have waited an entire year for our union to work for us. To give us answers. To show us transparency. No, we will not be easily distracted.Courtney Daniels