With Black theater industry professionals making up less than 1% of the commercial industry, Broadway producer and rising star Brian Moreland is hard at changing that statistic. Although we are further than we were before, there is still a long road ahead to bringing more diversity to what’s known as “The Great White Way.”
After the murder of George Floyd in 2020, something changed within communities across America, and most certainly within the Broadway community. “I think what was born out of the murder of George Floyd was a wake-up call,” Moreland says. Since 2020, organizations such as The Black Theater Organization and Black Theater United have entered the playing field to lift a mirror and hold everyone accountable in the industry. Putting more People of Color into positions of power, in an office or backstage, has been at the forefront of many in the theater industry as they strive to progress to a more equitable system. “I definitely think we are closer to it than we were 2 years ago, 2 months ago, or yesterday. We’re closer and that’s endless because of the strides that everyone’s making right now,” Moreland says.
Being a producer was never at the forefront of Moreland’s mind. Still, after starting his journey as a performer on cruise ships, regional tours, and doing workshops, the realization began to grow for Moreland that the management in the room wasn’t working. After thinking about what he would do differently, an opportunity came to be a line producer. Two years later, he found himself in an office pitching a show to Tony Award winners Irene Gandy and Jeffery Richards. “Jeffrey said, ‘I’m working on this particular play. Perhaps you’d like to co-produce this play and be in the room,” Moreland recalled. Moreland was named in “Variety’s Top 10 Broadway To Watch,” while also picking up two Tony Awards nominations for Best Play in 2020 for Sea Wall / A Life and The Sound Inside, and was also named Broadway Producer of the Year in 2021.
Being a producer wasn’t Moreland’s first career choice. “Producing is a full-time job and requires all of you at all hours of the day especially in the early stages of something and so, I committed to it,” Moreland said. It took a lot of hard work and dedication for Moreland to build his skills to an elite level, along with a lot of resiliency. There’s always going to be a “roadblock to deter you, and I just think you have to go around it. You either jump over it, go around it, go through it, but you keep moving forward,” Moreland explained.
Despite some significant progress in recent years, the journey is still ongoing in reaching equality. It takes being transparent, asking the hard questions, and having those difficult conversations to look deeper at ourselves and the commercial industry to ensure that opportunities are afforded and gained equally. It takes what Moreland calls “radical honesty, but with compassion” to have those difficult conversations and be a great producer. There wasn’t a conscious decision made for Moreland to stop performing and go into producing, there was an opportunity to do something for the better, and he fully embraced it.
Brian Moreland’s most recent work includes being the lead producer of the Broadway show The Piano Lesson, starring Samuel L. Jackson, John David Washington, and Danielle Brooks. Moreland is also an active member of the Board of Governors of The Broadway League, Co-Chair of the Multicultural Task Force, and a Trustee of the board for Broadway Cares Equity Fights Aids.
Moreland’s next big project will be a revival of The Wiz for the upcoming 2023-2024 season, starting with a full national tour for 20 weeks, then the show will stop on Broadway for 20 weeks before going back on the road.
Brian Moreland is also the founder of B.More Now Productions. Follow the link below to read more about Brian Moreland and his great work: