How The Theatre Leadership Project Aims to Launch Broadway’s Future Black Leaders

Travis LeMont Ballenger and Leah Harris (Stephanie Gould/Morgana Wilborn)

Broadway has long known that Black professionals are underrepresented backstage and in leadership positions in the commercial theater industry — but now a new initiative from a group of Broadway producers, the Theatre Leadership Project, aims to change that.

“There seems to be this notion that if you are a Black person or a person of color working in the theater field, then the commercial world is not for you. You are forced to go into the nonprofit arena,” said Travis LeMont Ballenger, one of the founding members of TTLP. He spoke on the latest episode of Variety‘s theater podcast, “Stagecraft,” appearing with Leah Harris, the new project’s program manager, to discuss the current state of representation on Broadway and how TTLP is hoping to change things.

“Black people are basically told from the moment you graduate college that all of the work that you do has to be in service,” explained Ballenger, who recently joined Lia Vollack Productions (“MJ”) from The Old Globe in San Diego. “Somehow, in order to get here, you’ve gotten something, so now you have to give back. You can’t do work that also has a commercial angle to it. … We are working to combat that idea, and to fight against that.”

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SOURCE: Variety, Gordon Cox