NEW YORK — “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda hopes to increase diversity on Broadway and in theaters across the country with a new initiative announced June 8.
The Representation, Inclusion and Support for Employment Theater Network —or R.I.S.E. Network, for short — is launching a directory of diverse offstage theater professionals to make it easier for them to get hired for jobs ranging from stagehands to producers and general managers.
“There has been a lot of talk since 2020 about diversity and change,” Miranda told The Associated Press, adding that the directory is coming at a “really wonderful time because theater, as a system, has learned to say the right things.”
“Now,” Miranda said, “it’s about backing that up.”
According to a 2021 report from the Asian American Performers Action Coalition, which studied Broadway shows in the 2018-2019 season, 100% of general managers and 94% of the producers were white. White actors were cast in 80% of the lead roles in musicals and 90% of the lead roles in plays.
Steps have been taken to improve diversity in the theater since then — most notably “A New Deal for Broadway” in 2021, negotiated between Black Theatre United and Broadway shows and their touring productions. With R.I.S.E. Network, Miranda wants to make it easier for those hiring for offstage jobs to find diverse applicants.
“R.I.S.E. is really about making sure that the beautiful mosaic of people you see — if you see a production of ‘Hamilton’ or you see a production of ‘MJ (The Musical)’ or ‘Fat Ham’ on Broadway — is also reflected backstage, that it’s not just the folks in front of the footlights,” Miranda said, “Because there are incredibly talented practitioners and carpenters and makeup designers and wardrobe folks who also deserve that shot.”
The Miranda Family Fund provided the seed money to build R.I.S.E. Theater Network and will help support the directory, which is free for those looking to work and looking to hire. Adam Hyndman, R.I.S.E. Network’s project director, said it would launch June 8 with nearly 1,000 theater professionals in the directory.