Kenny Leon Calls Out Racism and Inequity in Broadway

By Sameer Rao Mar 14, 2018

Kenny Leon, one of the only Black directors to consistently stage Broadway productions, opened up about racism’s impact on the stage to The Root today (March 14). 

"America is damn racist. Broadway and television is a microcosm of America in the way that it’s operated. A Tony Award for Kenny Leon is different from a Tony for Dan Sullivan," said Leon, whose 2014 staging of "A Raisin in the Sun" won a Tony for Best Direction of a Play. "A White man with a Tony goes farther than a Black man with a Tony."

Leon added that his status as a Black director for high-profile Broadway shows also limits his storytelling agency. "In Broadway, there’re only two African Americans directing on a consistent basis—that’s me and George C. Wolfe," he explained. "There should be more. I want to direct stories that deal with my culture but also want to do stories that deal with other parts of my humanity."

Leon hopes to do that with his new staging of "Children of a Lesser God," which tells the story of a romantic relationship between a deaf woman and her former teacher. Leon cast several actors of color in prominent roles, including Lauren Ridloff ("Wonderstruck") as the lead female protagonist. "The more I diversified, the more I saw the play as the world I lived in,” Leon said.

Read the full interview at