×

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

  • Naomi Watts and Gretchen Carlson'The Loudest

    ‘The Loudest Voice’ Stars Naomi Watts, Russell Crowe Talk Roger Ailes

    Roger Ailes may have been the force behind the creation of Fox News, but the late newsman’s legacy will forever be his atrocious sexual harassment of several of the network’s female anchors and producers. Showtime premiered its new limited series “The Loudest Voice,” which chronicles Ailes’ rise and fall, on Monday night at the Paris [...]

  • Billy Eichner Power of Pride Variety

    Billy Eichner on Taylor Swift's 'Calm Down' Backlash

    When Taylor Swift released her “You Need to Calm Down” music video, it seemed like every member of the LGBTQ in Hollywood was included — except for Billy Eichner. “I’m still not gay enough for Taylor Swift — or too gay — I don’t know what it is,” Eichner joked at Variety’s Power of Pride [...]

  • Bebe Rexha

    Mumford and Sons, Sting, Ciara, Bebe Rexha Light Up Cannes Lions

    There was no shortage of excellent music at the 2019 edition of Cannes Lion. The international gathering of creatives drew top music brands – among them: Spotify, Live Nation, iHeartRadio, SiriusXM/Pandora, VEVO and Universal Music Group – and a slew of well-known acts to stages across the Croissette, to villas above the city and onto [...]

  • Patrick Wilson

    Patrick Wilson, Mckenna Grace on Scary Stories From 'Annabelle Comes Home' Set

    Tales of spooky occurrences on the sets of horror movies like “The Exorcist” and “Poltergeist” have circulated for years, and it looks like “The Conjuring” franchise is following in their footsteps in that regard. The cast of “Annabelle Comes Home” shared their unnerving stories from set at the film’s premiere on Thursday night at the Regency [...]

  • Donald Trump Chucky Childs Play

    'Child's Play' Stars on New Chucky's 'Creepy' Resemblance to Donald Trump

    At Wednesday night’s world premiere of the “Child’s Play” remake, it was obvious that evil doll Chucky — the star of seven films over three decades — had a little work done. And now he bears a striking resemblance to Donald Trump. “Oh, you caught that?” Aubrey Plaza asked Variety on the black carpet outside [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content