Meet LaChanze: Broadway Star, Mom and Activist
On stage, you may know LaChanze as the Tony Award-winning performer with a thick stack of Playbills under her belt. She's performed in countless musicals, concerts and TV shows, most notably known for her award-winning role as "Celie" in The Color Purple and "Diva Donna" in Donna Summer: The Musical. However, it's what LaChanze does behind the curtain that boasts one of her greatest achievements yet.
Just this summer, LaChanze took advantage of her time off stage (due to Covid) to co-found Black Theatre United: a new advocacy coalition that vows to "stand together to help protect Black people, Black talent, and Black lives of all shapes and orientations in theatre and communities across the country."
In just 5 months, BTU has received the support of actors, directors, musicians and more, including Audra McDonald, Vanessa Williams, Billy Porter, Brian Stokes and Allyson Tucker, to name a few.
When she's not advocating at Town Hall for Black Theatre United or working on her latest performances, LaChanze is busy spending time with her two daughters, Jagged Little Pill star Celia Rose and Zaya Gooding.
We caught up with the fabulous LaChanze and one of her daughters, Celia Rose, to discuss BTU and the power of community, unbreakable mother-daughter bonds, and of course - fall fashion! Read below.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your career.
I've been working in the entertainment industry for over 30 years. Primarily Broadway, but also film and television. Recently, I have added producer and activist to my career. That all came out of the Covid pandemic. The silver lining of the quarantine was developing a media platform, The Culture, and co-founding Black Theatre United.
You're one of the founders of Black Theatre United. Can you tell us about how you started this amazing organization and the important work that they do?
Black Theatre United came out of a tearful conversation with my friend and co-founder, Audra McDonald. We felt that we should pool like minded Black Theatre artist in our industry and advocate on behalf of Black Talent, Black Lives and black people during this time of racial unrest. Since our first meeting on June 1st, we’ve been busy with Town Halls, census outreach and voting. We have amazing members and allies!
How can other people get involved and support this coalition?
Please visit our site www.blacktheatreunited.com and become a member or an ally. Your participation and donations go to support our many grassroots initiatives including mentorships and internships throughout our industry.
The coronavirus pandemic has significantly changed our lives in many ways. How has this time changed you?
It has been very challenging for those of us in theatre. Theater is closed and we don’t know when it’s coming back. So many of us have had to get creative with how to stay productive and positive during this time. Black Theatre United came out of that experience.
Ramy Brook is a celebration of all women, mothers and daughters. You have two beautiful daughters - tell us about your unbreakable bond with them.
Celia Rose and I have a great mother-daughter relationship. Of course it’s not all roses all the time, but our family is small - the three of us in total. Celia Rose and her sister, Zaya. So we are very close. We talk about everything. I give them room to be who they are in the world which I believe garners more trust from them.
My daily mantra is to be grateful for every day. When I open my eyes in the morning and look outside, I am thankful for another day of life and another opportunity to love.