Black Women On Broadway Awards To Honor Aisha Jackson, DeDe Ayite And Irene Gandy

The Black Women on Broadway Awards, which celebrates the legacy and achievements of Black women in the Broadway community, said Monday they are returning for their third annual in-person event June 10 at The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers in New York City/

This year, Irene Gandy, Aisha Jackson and DeDe Ayite will be honored for their work at the highest level of commercial live theater in the U.S. 

The show, an offshoot of the Black Women on Broadway (BWOB) Instagram account , launched in June 2020 and is led by Oscar and Tony nominee Danielle Brooks, Amber Iman and Jocelyn Bioh, who just received a Drama League and Outer Critics Circle nomination for her play Jaja’s African Hair Braiding.

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“We are thrilled to be able to host the third annual Black Women on Broadway Awards Celebration. It is our goal as an organization to honor and celebrate the achievements of Black women in theater both on and Off Broadway each season,” the co-founders said today. “This year, we are proud to honor Aisha Jackson, Dede Ayite and Irene Gandy – three incredibly hardworking women in theater whose achievements deserve to be celebrated.”

Jackson will receive the Florence Mills Shining Star Award, created to honor a Black woman performer in theater. Jackson has been working on Broadway for the past 10 years and appeared in shows like Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, Waitress, and Frozen, where she made history as the first Black actress to perform the role of Anna in the production. Most recently, she played Snow White in the Britney Spears jukebox musical Once Upon a One More Time and the City Center Encores production of Pal Joey.

Ayite will receive the Kathy A. Perkins Behind the Curtain Award, which focuses on costume work on Broadway. Ayite, a two-time Tony-nominated costume designer, worked on a record six shows this season both on and Off Broadway including Hell’s Kitchen, Jaja’s African Hair Braiding, Days of Wine and Roses and Buena Vista Social Club.

Gandy will receive the Audra McDonald Legacy Award for her outstanding achievements in producing and marketing on Broadway for over 50 years. Gandy is a 2020 Tony honoree for Excellence in Theatre and a multiple Tony winner. Her Broadway producing credits include The Piano, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, Ohio State Murders and the 2023 revival of Ossie Davis’ Purlie Victorious.

“It is so important that we continue to shine a light on the outstanding contribution that Black women in the theater community bring on and off stage. For the past two years, we have seen how inspiring and vital this celebration has been and we hope for it to be a mainstay of the theater awards season,” the co-founders added.

The organization is one of the few places in the theater community that not only explicitly celebrates the talents of Black women in the New York industry but elevates those who work onstage and off. Like the BWOB Instagram account, the awards ceremony serves not only as a point of reference for the various and sometimes historically erased accomplishments of Black women working in the industry, but also as a place of commune and community.

The BWOB co-founders are still in the trenches and grassroots stages of their third iteration, with Brooks, Iman and Bioh spearheading and raising the funds themselves. This year’s awards are sponsored by Fractured Atlas.

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