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Back in 2011, the talented and beautiful Nikki M. James won a Tony for her role as Nabulungi in The Book of Mormon. The versatile actress is currently playing Éponine in Les Misérables.
Via the Wall Street Journal,
I thought to myself, well, they’re casting a black Éponine, are they going to cast mixed-race or “ethnic,” for lack of a better word, young Éponine and young Cosette? Because those little girls switch off. They didn’t. They also didn’t cast little blonde girls, even though the girl who plays Cosette in the first act grows up to be the actress who’s playing Cosette on Broadway, who’s blonde.
We’re doing a musical, we’re a bunch of French people in 1832 who are singing in English. We don’t have to be so literal with our family lines, and amazingly in theater, we don’t have to follow the rules of genetics and that kind of stuff. It always feels like Cameron [Mackintosh, the producer] cast exactly who he wanted to cast to tell the story.
Theater is one of the places where we can do nontraditional casting, where we don’t have to be bound by some of the rules that I’m sure people in film or television feel they’re bound by. But I also feel like in the commercial theater, people often aren’t as brave as they could be. I try not to think about it that much because it’s been the story of my life. I’ve played a lot of roles that have traditionally been played by nonblack actresses. I try not to think about it, because that part of it is just not my job. I can’t be worried.
Go here for tickets.