Actors' Equity Association (Equity) named Hamilton, Spring Awakening and Waitress the co-recipients of the Extraordinary Excellence in Diversity on Broadway Award for the 2015–16 theatrical season. Presented by Equity’s National Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Committee, the award honors shows that exemplify and promote the union’s founding principles of diversity, inclusion and equal opportunity for all who work in the theatre.
“We are thrilled to acknowledge the abundance of diversity this season by honoring not one or two, but three productions this year,” said National EEO Committee Chair Christine Toy Johnson. “Each went above and beyond challenging the industry standard by not just promoting, but championing diversity and inclusion in ways that make us want to celebrate!”
Representing Waitress, choreographer Lorin Latarro said, “We worked to find and we did find a diverse cast of talented actors and we did it with consciousness. We did it because we wanted to show a real cross section of America on our stage.” In accepting the award on behalf of Spring Awakening, cast member Treshelle Edmond read and signed remarks, in part, from DJ Kurs of Deaf West: “We hope to create works so you see more equality on stage. There is no higher purpose in our profession.” Hamilton producer Jeffrey Seller accepted the award and cast member Ephraim M. Sykes spoke, saying that the production truly represents our country. In speaking about the power of theater, Sykes said that as actors, “We are doing something we love but also doing something that can help or change someone else.”
“I’ve always been deeply moved by the ways theatre can shift the lens through which we see ourselves and each other. Thank you to all three of these stunning productions for showing us a landscape of American storytelling that includes all of us,” Johnson said.
Past recipients of the Extraordinary Excellence in Diversity on Broadway Award are 110 in the Shade and Les Misérables (2006–07), Billy Elliot (2008–09), American Idiot (2009–10), The Merchant of Venice (2010–11), A Streetcar Named Desire (2011–12), Cinderella and The Trip to Bountiful (2012–13), If/Then (2013–14) and It Shoulda Been You (2014–15). Note: the award was not presented in 2007–08 season.