LaTanya Richardson Jackson, the first woman to direct Broadway a play by famed Black writer, August Wilson, is living out her passion.
According to The New York Post, Jackson scored the role of directing The Piano Lesson at 73 years old, proving that it’s never too late to pursue your dreams. The play, starring her husband, award-winning actor Samuel L. Jackson, premiered in October and is the highest-grossing revival of a play this season. It also stars legendary award-winning actor Denzel Washington’s son, John David Washington, and actress Danielle Brooks.
The Georgia native revealed that despite her knack for directing since childhood, it was acting that intrigued her during her youth.
“All throughout school, I was in children’s theater at Spelman, and then I went to school there,” she shared. “I just wanted to act. I saw it, and I wanted to do it. Those who have been touched by it– you are mesmerized by it. It seduces you to stay on a path.”
As she honed her skills, Jackson’s natural abilities began to stand out and eventually grabbed the attention of playwright Douglas Turner Ward, founder of the Negro Ensemble Company.
“I was the only person Doug put on the program as Assistant Director, not assistant to the director,” the 73-year-old said. “He used to tell me, ‘You can do this because you have the sight for it.'”
Years later, she landed her newest gig after Washington told her he wanted her to direct The Piano Lesson.
“I was in shock. I was like, ‘Really?! Me?'” she recalled shockingly responding to the opportunity. “Oh hell yeah…Let’s go. Let’s go!”
Just a few months later, she’s still confident that she’s going to make history as a director.
“I was trying to imagine a world [where] the themes of this play and these people would be acceptable for a new generation,” she said about her vision for The Piano Lesson. “I had to open up the metaphor. Art exists for people to feel, to see it, to visit it in their way.”
The play’s 16-week run has been extended an additional two weeks to January 29.