Broadway League’s Diversity & Inclusion Program Aims To Increase The Underrepresented In Careers In The Theater
She made it big on Broadway as a theater producer, but things weren’t always looking up in Jacquelyn Bell’s life.
The 26-year-old from the suburbs of Orlando, Fl. endured several bouts of homelessness and spent months in a shelter before moving being accepted into a program that prepares young people for careers on Broadway.
Through the Diversity and Inclusion Program, hosted by the Broadway League and the Association of Theatrical Press Agents and Managers, Bell said she learned the ins and outs of a career behind the scenes on the world’s biggest stage, and now enjoys a successful career as a producer and stage manager.
“This initiative was a drastic life change, simply because it opened a door that I thought I never had,” Bell said at a recent luncheon at the famed NYC theater district haunt Sardi’s to celebrate the trainees’ achievements. “It gives a chance for people like me who should’ve grown up as statistics. I’m grateful.”
The little-known program’s mission is to make Broadway a more inclusive place, and it’s where traditionally underrepresented backgrounds intern behind the scenes to learn more about careers in the theater. The work experience has led to full-time jobs for many of the students, Charlotte St. Martin, president of the Broadway League, said.
“Our goal for the initiative is for Broadway to look like our country, where there are people from different backgrounds on stage, backstage and in the audience,” St. Martin said. To date, some 65 interns have participated in the program.
Bell said she worked directly with her theater company director, and the connections she made through the experience led to her first job. She now works at executive producer at Stages Theatre Company in New York.
“The odds were a little stacked and the theater was like my outlet,” she said. “It was my saving grace. The theater kind of saved my life.”