Black History Rewritten! Emilie Kouatchou Becomes First Black Performer To Play Female Lead In ‘The Phantom of the Opera’

by Duchess Magazine
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Inclusion and diversity are being powered on the world stage and Broadway is following suit!

“The Phantom of the Opera,” Broadway’s longest-running musical has rewritten its history all thanks to casting twenty-five-year-old Emilie Kouatchou as Christine Daaé, making her the first Black actor ever to play the lead role full time.

“It’s overwhelming. It’s scary and daunting and exciting all at the same time. It’s so many feelings wrapped into one,” Kouatchou said to CBS New York.

Back in October, she also became the first Black actor to play the role of Christine Daaé in the New York production of “The Phantom of the Opera.”

“The Phantom of the Opera”, based on Gaston Leroux’s classic novel, premiered on Broadway on Jan. 26, 1988, with its original production winning seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

This comes on the heels of Broadway being lashed at over its lack of inclusion and diversity. In August, the powerbrokers of Broadway signed a pact “pledging to strengthen the industry’s diversity practices.”

Earlier in a chat with People,
Kouatchou opened up about considering a career change with the COVID-19 pandemic which resulted in closed Broadway theaters for a year and a half. She also explained her frustration with the producers of “Phantom of the Opera” and Broadway in general for taking so long to cast Black women in the lead roles.

“It frustrates me that it took this long; it does,” she said. “I’m honored that it’s me, and I’m honored that I’m making history, but I’m really excited for when it’s not even a question, it’s not even a thing, the first Black Christine.”

“I just think that Black women, especially in theater, have to be—and it shouldn’t be this way—10 times better and work 10 times harder,” she said. “It took this long for any Black woman to play Christine, but there have been so many talented Black women who could have.”



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