The Hollywood Reporter has a great interview with Tony award winning Allegiance lead actress Lea Salonga and Hamilton lead actress Phillipa Soo. (I should mention that Soo is considered a possible Tony award winner in 2016 for her role as well)
As we have pointed out on this site before, Broadway has been an oasis of diversity compared to Hollywood. It’s been paying off big time for them, Hamilton is the talk of the town, Allegiance is a smash hit and The Color Purple and On Your Feet look like successes even though it’s very early in their runs. Remember those Sony emails that said a POC couldn’t open a film? Someone forgot to tell the Broadway producers, and the POC are playing to packed houses while revitalizing the theater scene. They are bringing a new fresh perspective to the stage, and the audiences can’t get enough.
Diversity was the big theme for this interview with the two leading ladies. Phillipa spoke about Lea’s role in Aladdin was an inspiration to her, to see a WOC be successful.
This exchange, however, was the one that stood out to me:
What can Hollywood learn from Broadway right now?
SALONGA: Watch the season, first of all! And with On Your Feet! and The Color Purple, it’s an incredible season of shows. It’s quite groundbreaking, and it just shows what’s possible. It’s possible for any ten-year-old of any background to look up at the stage and say, ‘Mommy, that’s what I want to do,’ and then for that mom to say, ‘Well then go for it. I’m right behind you.’ It’s nice to be able to have a hand in that, instead of saying, ‘There’s nobody like you onstage, where are you gonna fit?’ But we’re fitting quite nicely, eight shows a week.
Stop seeing us as exotic and oriental and far-removed from the experience of what this country actually is. Don’t see us as foreigners, see us as part of the country. Then, maybe there will be more really great stuff written on film for people that look like us, because theater people are writing things for us! Kei was written for me — I can actually say that!