Kandi Burruss Helps Make Broadway History With Producing Debut (Exclusive)
By Brice Sander
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As if Kandi Burruss' resume wasn’t long enough, the GRAMMY winning star of Bravo's The Real Housewives of Atlanta is adding another title to her list of credits: Broadway producer. ET can exclusively reveal that Kandi has joined the producing team behind the new play Thoughts of a Colored Man, which is set to star Broadway's first all-Black, male cast. It's a history-making moment all around.
"I'm super excited, I have added another little feather to my cap," Kandi quips to ET over video chat from New York City, a day ahead of the announcement. "You know how much I love Broadway. So, to have an opportunity to join such a wonderful team, I mean, I'm so excited about this play. It's just amazing, I'm overjoyed. I couldn't wait to tell everybody -- because I tell everybody, ‘Oh yeah, I'm doing this. I'm doing that…’ -- but to come on board as a producer of a Broadway play is a major thing for me."
Kandi joins fellow actresses Sheryl Lee Ralph and Samira Wiley on the producing team, alongside Brian Moreland, Ron Simons, Diana DiMenna, The Shubert Organization, and The Nederlander Organization. Thoughts of a Colored Man, from playwright Keenan Scott II, tells the story of seven Black men who "discover the extraordinary, together." The piece blends spoken word, slam poetry, rhythm and humor through a story of what it means to be Black, proud and thriving in the 21st century. Dyllón Burnside, Bryan Terrell Clark, Da'Vinchi, Luke James, Forrest McClendon, Tristan "Mack" Wilds and Keith David are set to star.
"Over the years, a lot of people haven't been able to see the many different sides of Black men," Kandi notes. "You see one thing and you see them being shown in one light, but now you're going to be able to come to Broadway, of all places, and see African-American men be able to show so many different sides of themselves, and be able to laugh and have joy."
"I don't want people to feel it's not for everyone, because this play is for everyone," she adds. "It's one of those plays that will pull on your heartstrings. It'll make you laugh. It'll just take you through all the different emotions -- when I tell you, our cast is amazing. So I'm so super excited to see these men be able to bring to life the African-American male experience, but in a way that you've never seen it or never heard it, which is important because so many times in the past it has just been this whole thing of negativity. And I think that people need to see that it's so much more to Black men that you probably never knew. And so many things that are relatable to everyone, but as a woman, as a Black woman and a wife, who's married to a wonderful Black man and who has a Black son, I'm just so happy to see this opportunity to be shown on Broadway."
Kandi's producing announcement comes on the eve of Juneteenth, which for the first time is a federal holiday in the United States. The holiday commemorates June 19, 1865, the day the news of the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed enslaved people in the U.S., made its way to Texas, nearly two years after President Abraham Lincoln’s executive order.
"I think my ancestors would be proud," Kandi says with a smile. "To be able to be all these years later and as an African-American woman, to be able to do something as significant as be a part of bringing the first all-African American male starring cast to Broadway is major for me."
Kandi is no stranger to the Great White Way, having starred in the long-running production of Chicago back in 2018. It was around that same time that she first heard about Thoughts of a Colored Man and became interested in backing the production when it made its way to Broadway. Now, to bring the show to the stage as Broadway comes back to life following the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown feels extra meaningful to the multi-hyphenate star.
"I'm a lover of Broadway," she gushes. "To see Broadway come back, and us to bring life back to Broadway, is major in itself. This is the first time, historically -- since we talking about history -- that Broadway has ever shut down. COVID shut Broadway down, which has never happened. I don't [think] a lot of people understand that. So I'm just so thrilled that we're able to be a part of bringing things back, bringing it back to life, bringing the people back, bringing the culture to Broadway. It's going to be an amazing thing. And I want everybody to come out, enjoy it with us and just have a good time and just know that when I tell you it's amazing -- you know how I am about winning, right? You know how competitive I am? So I only attach myself to things that are amazing, and that's why when the opportunity to be a part of Thoughts of a Colored Man, I jumped at the chance."
While she's not putting the cart before the horse, Kandi says there’s definitely space on a shelf for a Tony Award.
"You know it!" she cracks. "For me, preferably, I hope that, obviously, that Thoughts of a Colored Man one day will win a Tony. I think that it's such a wonderful piece of work that it definitely will deserve that. And I'm just going to speak it into existence."
Thoughts of a Colored Man's limited engagement kicks off with preview performances on Friday, Oct. 1, at Broadway's Golden Theatre. Opening night follows on Oct. 31. Tickets are available now.