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Danielle Brooks and LaTanya Richardson Jackson

Showstoppers: Danielle Brooks and LaTanya Richardson Jackson

This October, August Wilson’s “The Piano Lesson” arrives on Broadway

The last time LaTanya Richardson Jackson was on Broadway, she was acting as Calpurnia in Aaron Sorkin’s To Kill A Mockingbird. This fall, she’s working backstage, directing a revival of August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson that stars her husband, Samuel L. Jackson. “Same hat, different colors” is how she describes the difference between acting and directing. This revival, opening in October at the Barrymore, marks the first time a woman has directed a Wilson play on Broadway. Says Jackson, “From the very first time I heard or read a line in an August Wilson play, I knew that my life had been changed in an extraordinary way, and that I needed to and would hold on to this elevated documentation of my people and who I am forever.”

When Danielle Brooks auditioned for Juilliard at 17, she performed a monologue from August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson. 15 years later, she’ll be playing the role on Broadway. “His work has completely transformed my life,” says Brooks. Working with Jackson as director is “refreshing,” Brooks explains. “She’s a straight shooter, no chaser. She’s going to tell you like it really is. She’s a black woman, born to a black woman, who also came from a black woman. That shared experience leaves room for us to discover so much more about the play.” With Jackson’s help, adds Brooks, “I’m realizing I can be an even stronger actress.”