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New York, NY (May 5, 2022) – Black Theatre Coalition co-founders T. Oliver Reid, Warren Adams, and Reginald ReggieVan Lee, along with Executive Director Olivia Jones, Program Director Nik Whitcomb, Director of Communications Davon Williams, and American Express announced today that TaNisha Fordham has been chosen as the recipient of the inaugural Directing Fellowship.

This Black Theatre Coalition Directing Fellowship provides a $50,000 annual salary and the opportunity to participate in the efforts of mounting a Broadway production. Each fellow in the cohort will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in their area of the industry, working alongside current industry leaders at the highest levels, learning the process of theater making from the executive, creative, and administrative areas. The Fellowship also provides mentorship and guidance from Black professionals currently working in the industry and from BTC Accomplices within offices where fellows are placed. Additionally, Black Theatre Coalition will produce “Pop Up Events” in which the full cohort of fellows will have the opportunity to put skills into practice. The Black Theatre Coalition currently has more than 30 fellows placed throughout the industry. The Black Theatre Coalition Fellows currently working with specific productions are as follows: Taylor Courtney, Devon Miller, David Norwood, Carrli Cooper, Brandon Kelly, Nia Blizzard, John Bronston, Adam Hyndman, Tyra Wilson, Amy Marie Haven, Jourdan Miller, Amina Alexander, Jordan Booker Medley, Lori Tishfield, Crystal Monee Hall, Danielle Covington, Brandi Knox, Michael Leon Thomas, TaNisha Fordham, Jorge Pluas (in partnership w/ BFRJ), Kevin McAllister, Matthew Johnson Harris, and Aaron Ward.

TaNisha Fordham, co-producer of the 2018 Oscar® Nominated film, My Nephew Emmett, is a producer, director, writer, performer, educator, and content creator who, in 2019, was honored to have served as Mrs. New Jersey United States and currently serves as the associate director on Company the Broadway musical revival. Fordham was hired full time with Company after her Black Theater Coalition (BTC) fellowship; Fordham was selected as the directing fellow in October 2021. Fordham is also currently the Assistant Director of SuperHero, a new musical set to open at the Sheen Center for Thought and Culture in April of this year.

In 2020 Fordham completed a residency with Rutgers University and their Express Newark CMC (filmmakers) Program; Fordham was invited back for the 2022 cohort where she is currently working through post-production for her narrative directorial debut.

Fordham has written, directed, and produced over 40 original productions, spanning several mediums, over the past 15 years through her company Enlightened Visions (www.enlightenedvisions.org). Last year she had her feature – documentary, directorial debut with Queen, which premiered at the 2021 Pan-African Film Festival.

This summer (2022) Fordham is set to produce the second annual Theater in the Park event with the city of Newark with her newest live theater production, TaNisha Fordham The EGOT. This show is intended to encourage communities to claim hold of their innate power, brilliance, and potential.

In the winter of 2021 Fordham was selected as one of the ensemble members at The Goodman Theater, of Chicago, in their “InterGens,” program which lifts the voices of a diverse and intergenerational group of creatives. The ensemble’s work culminated in a virtual performance in March of 2021.

In addition to the aforementioned, Fordham has the distinct honor of being an educator.

“With this award, we hope to uplift Black voices and creators in theater and provide them with the much-needed resources to bring their stories to life,” said Anike Wariebi, Vice President Events, Entertainment and Retail Partnerships at American Express. “As a long supporter of the arts, we’ve partnered with The Black Theatre Coalition to help bridge the gap between traditionally marginalized groups within the industry.”

Black Theatre Coalition recently completed its inaugural Apprentice Program with the opening of the critically acclaimed Broadway revival, Company. BTC also has an ongoing Broadway Fellowship Program which has currently funded 20 fellows, 8 apprentices, and 6 regional Fellowships in cooperation with the John Gore Organization and Broadway Across America.

Other Industry Partners helping fund these fellowships include Madison Wells Media, Disney Theatrical Group, Jujamcyn Theatres, Bespoke Theatricals, Foresight Theatricals, 101 Productions, RCI Theatricals, Showtown Theatricals, Thompson Turner Productions, Sony Music Group, Adventureland, Mara Isaacs, Tom Kirdahy Productions, Hal Luftig Company, Doug Denoff, Hunter Arnold, Daryl Roth Productions, Stage Entertainment, Moulin Rouge, Come From Away, Hamilton, Tara Rubin Casting, Telsey + Co, Spotco, DKC/O&M, Broadway Women’s Alliance, Bond Theatrical, American Express and The Theatre Leadership Project (TTLP).

Applications for the 2022-2023 fellowship are now open. The deadline to apply for Fellowships is June 30th and placements will begin in late-August/early-September. Interviews will happen between now and then on a rolling basis. To apply, please visit btc.smapply.io.

Over the 155 years since the very first Broadway musical (The Black Crook) premiered in 1866, the “Great White Way” has seen 3,002 musicals and 8,326 plays. Across all of these productions, there have been only Ten Black directors of a musical (0.3%) , Eleven Black directors of a Play (0.13%) and Seventeen Black choreographers of a Musical (0.56%). All of this directly correlates to the fact that there have only ever been Two Black lead producers of a musical (representing 0.06% of all Broadway musicals). Furthermore, the numbers for Writers, Composers, Scenic, Lighting, Costume, Sound, Video, Music Contractors, Musical Directors, Arrangers, Orchestrators, Hair/Wigs/Makeup, Casting, General Management, Stage Management, Company Management, PR and Marketing/ Advertising range from 0 to 5 in each category.

In a joint statement, Mr. Reid, Mr. Adams, and Mr. Van Lee said, “Once we identified just how vast the disparity is between the perceived inclusivity on stage and the utter dearth of black professionals off stage, we began outlining ways in which we could address and ultimately eradicate this invisible imparity. This outline provided a clear path forward for our organization and our entire industry. It’s time to reshape the theatrical ecosystem for those who have been marginalized by systematically racist that has been part of American theater.”
For more information about the Black Theatre Coalition, visit their website www.BlackTheatreCoalition.org

For partnership inquiries email – Partnership@blacktheatrecoalition.org

For submissions – Submissions@blacktheatrecoaliton.org