×

How ‘Orange Is the New Black’ Star Danielle Brooks Became a Broadway Producer

Danielle Brooks earned a Tony nomination when she made her Broadway debut as Sofia in the 2015 revival of “The Color Purple,” but now the “Orange Is the New Black” star is working behind the scenes as a producer on the new jukebox musical “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations.”

“I saw them do a black box rehearsal and I asked the lead producers if I could please be a part of this in some way,” Brooks told Variety on Thursday at the opening night of “Ain’t Too Proud” at the Imperial Theatre. “I told them I think what you are missing is a youthful, black woman on this project. And that is how it came about.”

She added, “I have been very quiet about it, so to be here tonight is very special. The theater has always been a part of my heart as much as this music of Motown. I feel like I really am a person of the ’60s and ’70s, where my spirit is, even though I was born in the ’80s.”

Music lovers of all ages and backgrounds came out in the bitter cold rain to fill the seats at the Imperial. Attendees included Debra Messing, Blair Underwood, Sarah Ferguson, Ron Simons, Melba Moore, Joel Grey, Jill Zarin, Susan Kelechi Watson, Dominique Fishback, James Monroe Iglehart, and Ben Vereen.

The cast, holding bouquets of roses, were brought to tears during the curtain call when playwright Dominique Morisseau and director Des McAnuff took the stage. Morisseau and McAnuff pointed to Motown founder Berry Gordy as well as Supremes legend Mary Wilson and Temptations manager Shelly Berger seated in the front row.

“This is just great. It is hard to explain because so many great things have happened,” Gordy said earlier in the evening. “This is so dear to me because of the struggle that they went through and they still are going strong.”

Nearly 1,000 guests appeared at the massive after-party at Gotham Hall with cast members Derrick Baskin, James Harkness, Jawan M. Jackson, Jeremy Pope, and Ephraim Sykes arriving to an immediate swarm of delighted fans and friends taking photos.

“Anytime a classic band like this is celebrated, it is a good thing,” said Steven Van Zandt. “It helps carry on the music to a new generation.”

More Scene

  • Dwayne Wade holds up the legend

    Dwyane Wade, Megan Rapinoe Win Big at 2019 Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Sports Awards

    The 2019 Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Sports Awards was filled with incredible athletes, inspiring moments and — of course — a massive amount of slime. “I love the kids. I love the slime. I loved the games. I love seeing celebrities and athletes like become kids again. And it’s like my favorite thing,” Michael Strahan told [...]

  • Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani

    Dave Bautista Talks Representation in Hollywood and Defying Stereotypes with 'Stuber'

    Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani make an unlikely duo in “Stuber,” an R-rated comedy about a police officer and his Uber driver. But the two connected over the rare chance to star in the film as actors of Asian descent (Baustia is half-Filipino and Nanjiani is Pakistani). “I’ve been stereotyped for a couple different reasons [...]

  • Skin

    How Jamie Bell Transformed Into a Neo-Nazi for 'Skin'

    Anyone who still associates British actor Jamie Bell with his breakout role as a young boy who dreams of becoming a ballet dancer will quickly forget all about “Billy Elliot” after seeing “Skin,” which screened at ArcLight Hollywood on Thursday night. “I was shocked,” the film’s writer-director, Guy Nattiv, told Variety of his leading man’s [...]

  • HOLLYWOOD, CA - JULY 10: (L

    Leonardo DiCaprio-Produced Doc 'Sea of Shadows' Takes on Mexican Cartels

    Leonardo DiCaprio‘s latest eco-documentary “Sea of Shadows” doesn’t shy away from taking on Mexican cartels. “For some of the guys there, he is state enemy number one at the moment,” said producer Wolfgang Knöpfler at the documentary’s premiere on Wednesday night at Neuehouse in Los Angeles. “The cartels don’t like him.” Appian Way and DiCaprio [...]

  • Megan Rapinoe and USWNT - 2019

    ESPY Awards 2019: What You Didn’t See on TV

    The ESPYs’ television broadcast only paints so much of the picture of what went down at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles from sports’ biggest award ceremony. Viewers at home saw Tracy Morgan host, celebrities like Sandra Bullock present and athletes including Drew Brees, Alex Morgan and Giannis Antetokounmpo receive awards, but they didn’t quite [...]

  • Queen and Slim

    'Queen & Slim' First Look, Motown Panel With Valerie Jarrett Highlight Essence Festival Events

    Universal Pictures hosted an exclusive preview event at Essence Festival Saturday to screen the first twelve minutes of “Queen & Slim,” the hotly anticipated film written by Lena Waithe and directed  by Melina Matsoukas, known for her visionary work with Beyoncé (“Lemonade,” “Formation”) and “Insecure.” Held at the historic Gallier Hall in New Orleans, the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content