Broadway actor and writer Sidney DuPont has launched ‘The Walkout Project,’ a social justice initiative that is aimed at supporting Black-owned businesses The movement is kicking off with the July 4th release of a new song and music video titled “Walkout.” DuPont and his collaborators are unveiling their new work at a time when protests against police brutality and racism are taking place across the country. It also comes as Broadway, which has been shuttered by coronavirus, is under pressure to back more projects from Black artists.
“There’s a lot at stake, and now is the right time to really look at ourselves in the mirror and say ‘We are better than this,'” DuPont said in an interview with Variety. “As artists, we don’t need to rely on the same tired tropes where a Black woman comes out for one scene and belts out something sassy or a Black guy comes out and sings a painful song about history and is introduced with no back story — where they exist solely to support the leading white character.”
DuPont has assembled a starry team to help him with “Walkout.” “Hamilton”s’ Tamar Greene (George Washington) and Jared Dixon (Aaron Burr) lend rap vocals, with another past “Hamilton” star, Amber Iman, also joining the video
In addition, this project’s cast includes Alex Newell (Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, Once On This Island), Ari Groover (Little Shop of Horrors), Ben Fankhauser (Newsies), Christina Sajous (SpongeBob), Crystal Kellogg (School of Rock), Gabrielle Elisabeth (Beautiful), Gabrielle McClinton (Chicago, Pippin), Hailee Wright (Beautiful), Jasmin Richardson (The Book of Mormon), Kayla Davion (Tina), Kennedy Caughell (Wicked), Marla Louissaint (The Visitor), Michael Stiggers (The Lion King), Nicholas Rodriguez (Tarzan) Terence Archie (Company), Jenna Marie Graves (Ailey II), Yael Reich (Hadestown), Amanda Castro (In The Heights), Ashley de la Rosa (Hamilton, Beautiful), Nasia Thomas (Ain’t Too Proud), Aashley Morgan (Beautiful), Malcolm Armwood (Hadestown), Housso Semon (The Lion King), Garrett Coleman (Hammerstep), Courtney Cochran (Dance Theatre of Harlem, (Brooklyn Ballet), Vanessa Carlton (three-time Grammy Nominee), Melissa Benoist (CW’s Supergirl, Beautiful) with Joshua Roberts (Britton & the Sting) on drums and Chris DiMeglio (TILT Brass) on horns.
DuPont says he wrote “Walkout” before the protests over the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and others sparked a nationwide conversation about race. He penned it for a musical he was writing about the 1990s, but realized that the song worked as a comment on the events taking place today.
“I sent a demo to my father and he said, ‘This can’t wait,'” said DuPont. “‘It has to go out now.'”
Veatrix, a Black-owned production company, produced the song and music video. It will be exclusively released on Tidal, the Jay-Z owned subscription service, and the corresponding music video will be exclusively released on the official website for “The Walkout Project.”
The full creative team for the music video “Walkout” includes: DuPont as composer/lyricist/director, Jonathan Mousset Alonso as musical arranger, James Rushin as music supervisor, and Amy Marie Seidel (Tectonic Theater Project) as associate director.
All proceeds from the video will be donated to the following organizations:
Black Lives Matter
Broadway Advocacy Coalition
Black Visions Collective
Color of Change
National Bail Fund Network
Marsha P Johnson Institution National Urban League.
“The Walkout Project” is also providing information about ways to find local Black-owned businesses. DuPont says the group is working on creating farmer’s markets that highlight Black-owned ventures and will include performances by theater actors and musicians.
“‘The Walkout Project’ is spawned from the need to provide more opportunities for the Black community and the realization that money equals power,” said DuPont. “We want money to go back to the Black community and we want to encourage people to be a part of making sure that Black people see a tangible financial return.”