The theater world has long been considered one of the most elite—and least diverse—in American culture. And as I've previously covered for The Root, at present there are only a handful of African-American Broadway producers, despite the fact that 46 new shows opened last season.
Over the years, though, there have been occasional African-American playwriting successes. Lorraine Hansberry was the first black female writer to have a show—the classic "A Raisin in the Sun," produced on Broadway—and it recently returned to Broadway, 55 years after its debut, with Denzel Washington now as the star.
August Wilson became the first black playwright to win a Tony Award for best play in 1987. But when Playbill, the publication best known for publishing Broadway programs, attempted to compile a list of influential black playwrights in the late '90s, the number of those with actual Broadway productions or mainstream crossover success of any kind was uncomfortably small.