Emilie Kouatchou makes history as first Black full-time female lead in ‘The Phantom of the Opera’

Kouatchou made her debut as an alternate in the show last October

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Broadway is back and breaking some new ground when it comes to diversity. Emilie Kouatchou officially made history this week as the first Black actress to play Christine Daaé full time in The Phantom of the Opera.

This isn’t Kouatchou’s first time making history with the role of Christine. She also became the first Black actress to be an alternate for the iconic role in October. While she was not on for every single performance, it was a huge milestone for a show that has spent 34 years on The Great White Way.

Instagram: @emiliekouatchou A new journey ? @murphymade @phantomopera

Now, fans can head to The Majestic Theatre and see her perform as Christine Daaé three times a week.

When it was first announced that she would officially be taking over the role, Kouatchou took to Instagram to share her excitement. She wrote, “THIS IS ABSOLUTE INSANITY YALL WHAT THE FAWK. THANK YOU ALL FOR THE LOVE!! OH and I celebrated today’s announcement by getting my booster shot!!! Celebrate with me and get yours ???.”

Last fall, Kouatchou sat down with PEOPLE and opened up about the historic nature of her turn as Christine.

“It frustrates me that it took this long, it does,” she shared. “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.”

Re-opening Continues Across Densely Populated New York And New Jersey Areas
People wearing protective masks walk by The Phantom of the Opera at Majestic Theatre as the city continues Phase 4 of re-opening following restrictions imposed to slow the spread of coronavirus on August 21, 2020 in New York City. The fourth phase allows outdoor arts and entertainment, sporting events without fans and media production. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images)

“I’ve had a lot of girls reach out, and say, ‘Hey, this is a dream role of mine, and you’re making it possible for me to achieve that goal,” she said.

“At times when I’m just so in my head about what I’m doing in the show, it’s a great reminder that this is something. No matter what I do on stage, me in that costume and me wearing that wig and me singing those songs and just my face as a face of Phantom [is] so important.”

Still, she shared that she did feel some amount of pressure leading up to her first performance in the fall.

“There were a lot of nights just feeling like maybe I’m not good enough for this, or feeling like I have the weight of all these people who are looking up to me [on my shoulders], and I wanted to do the best that I could,” Kouatchou explained.

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

Tickets are available now for The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway.

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