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Antoinette Nwandu Is Making Broadway History

The thing I’m learning as a Black woman is that those few little moments when you do have a lot of power, nobody tells you about it. Everybody’s looking out for themselves. So if you’re somebody who’s never historically come from power, you don’t recognize it, but power is the opportunity to change. I have power right now to change my industry. That’s why all of our actors get a wellness stipend, and we don’t ask how they use it. That’s a change that I’m proud of and a direct result of me being a producer in the room where these conversations are happening. The play depicts Black male trauma, and they’re doing it eight times a week. I mean, eight times a week! I’m actually mad I didn’t get one for myself.

How do you take care of yourself then?

Stillness, therapy, marijuana, and more stillness, shit. At the end of the day, I’m a Pisces. If I could sit in the corner and dream and cry, I would. But I’m not gonna sit by and watch other people gain power while I don’t. After I spent how many years writing this play? Nuh uh. That to me is self care, self respect.

Who is your support system?

Chosen family, real family, of course, but I​​ do not want to overlook the energy of our ancestors. Zora Neale Hurston wrote a book called Moses. I bought an original, signed copy of it. When I come home to hold it, I’m like: This woman held this book in her hands. [Laughs.] Yeah, I can write some pages today. They remind me that I’m not here by accident, and I’m never alone.

What’s a useful piece of advice you’d give to the younger Antoinette who first started jotting down the words of this play?

The same thing I tell myself today: Do affirmations out loud in the morning. Tell yourself that you are loved and doing a great job. Despite what it looks like, you’re moving forward. Sometimes, that move is internal. Don’t be so hard on yourself because you are literally magic. Black women? We are the magic, and not because of what we make. But because of who we’ve been and who we are. I mean, therapy is great but when you fix your mind to tell yourself that you are valuable at the beginning of every day?! Whew!

Pass Over is now playing at the August Wilson Theatre for a limited engagement through October 10, 2021.

Brittani Samuel is a Caribbean-American arts journalist, dramatic writer, and theater administrator based in New York. To read some of her published work, visit this link. To chat about how much she loves Rihanna, visit her on Instagram: @brittaniidiannee.

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