Schele Williams Makes History

Schele Williams Makes History as the First Black Woman to Direct a Broadway Musical in Over 40 Years with ‘The Wiz’ Revival

In a groundbreaking achievement, Schele Williams has become the first Black woman to direct a full-fledged musical on Broadway in over four decades.

Her revival of the beloved classic “The Wiz” has not only captivated audiences but also shattered barriers within the theater industry.

Breathing New Life into a Cultural Touchstone

Originally premiering on Broadway in 1975, “The Wiz” has been a cultural touchstone for Black audiences, reimagining the tale of “The Wizard of Oz” with an all-Black cast. Williams, drawing from her own experiences, has infused the revival with fresh energy and contemporary relevance.

“I thought of my daughters, who are 12 and 13, and how they’d find ownership inside this story,” Williams said. “We worked to acknowledge the cultural impact that Blackness has had on fashion, music, and dance.”

A Journey from Performer to Visionary Director

Williams’ path to this historic milestone has been marked by perseverance and a commitment to amplifying diverse voices.

Beginning her career as a celebrated performer in iconic Broadway productions like “Rent” and “Aida,” she transitioned to directing, determined to create opportunities for underrepresented stories and perspectives.

Dual Directorial Debut: “The Wiz” and “The Notebook”

In a remarkable feat, Williams made her Broadway directorial debut this spring with not one but two musicals: “The Wiz” and “The Notebook.”

The latter, co-directed with Michael Grief, explores a mixed-race couple’s journey through Alzheimer’s disease, a deeply personal subject for Williams, whose mother struggles with the condition.

Inspiring the Next Generation of Dreamers

With her historic achievement, Williams hopes to inspire kids of all backgrounds to pursue their dreams in the world of theater. As she reflects on her journey, she emphasizes the importance of patience and never losing faith in one’s abilities.

“I’ve got a good hustle. I’ve always had great faith and I’ve never been shy to work. I never believed that it wouldn’t happen.”