‘Wicked’ star Brittney Johnson becomes first Black actress to play Glinda on Broadway
Brittney Johnson said to have received a two-minute standing ovation after taking the stage for the first time
There’s a new Glinda the Good Witch in town and her name is Brittney Johnson.
The 31-year-old Washington, D.C. native made history during Black History Month when she became the first Black actress and the first woman of color to play Glinda on a full-time basis in the famed Broadway musical Wicked, according to Playbill.
A beaming Johnson received a two-minute standing ovation from Gershwin Theatre audience-goers in New York City Monday night as she donned a glittering blue gown, tiara and septor, and floated on stage in her magic bubble to play Glinda for the first time, according to CNN.
Johnson said she was, “honored, grateful and speechless,” according to WABC-TV. Playing Glinda provides people of color — and young Black girls in particular — a positive representation of Blackness that wasn’t as common when she was growing up, she told Variety.
“For many young Black children, it isn’t possible to dream beyond what they can see,” Johnson wrote in a Variety essay published on Monday. “And when you never see yourself represented as a leader, a free thinker, an inventor, a love interest, a royal, a person for whom respect is a given — how could you imagine yourself that way?”
Glinda, aka Galinda, is one of the main characters in Wicked, the Broadway musical mainstay that debuted in 2003. The play is based on author Gregory Maguire‘s 1995 novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, a now-classic revisionist telling of The Wizard of Oz, according to Playbill.
Glinda’s character is described as an intelligent, “beautiful and wealthy girl” whose initially snobby personality evolves as her story plays out.
“The opportunity to play Glinda means giving young Black girls, and frankly people of color of all ages and genders, an opportunity to see themselves as nuanced and fully formed human beings who are capable of both strength and gentility,” Johnson said.
“Little Black girls will get to see themselves being celebrated and loved for simply existing. They will get to see themselves wearing a crown.”
Johnson’s other Broadway credits include Les Misérables, Motown the Musical, Sunset Boulevard and Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, according to Variety.
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