Emilie Kouatchou on Becoming 1st Black ‘Phantom of the Opera’ Lead


Emilie Kouatchou.
Courtesy of Emilie Kouatchou/Instagram

A star is born! Emilie Kouatchou is making historical past as the first Black actress to play Phantom of the Opera’s Christine Daaé — and he or she doesn’t take the second calmly.

“When people come to New York, they want to see Broadway magic and I think that’s what Phantom is,” Kouatchou, 25, mentioned throughout a Today present interview on Thursday, February 24.

Christine is the protagonist in the longest-running Broadway musical, with each Erik (A.Ok.A. the Phantom of the Opera) and Viscount Raoul de Chagny falling in love together with her. The University of Michigan alum, who first auditioned for the manufacturing after graduating in 2019, didn’t at all times suppose she might take on the starring function of such an iconic present.

“I think my mindset was still that this role was not for me, which is just a sad reality,” she defined. “And it took a lot of unlearning just to be able to say, ‘No, I can do this.’”

When the time got here to carry out Christine’s musical moments throughout her audition, Kouatchou felt assured. “I knew I could sing the heck out of Christine,” she added.

The Illinois native served as Christine’s understudy earlier than taking on the function full-time in January. Her October 2021 fill-in efficiency, nonetheless, made her the first Black actress to play Christine in the present’s 34-year run.

“Last night???? Oh, baby we had a ball at the Majestic. I am just so so grateful for everyone who came, who took the time to write such kind messages to me, and every single person who has supported my throughout the years,” Kouatchou wrote via Instagram at the time.

She added: “If you’re Black and you’re reading this, TAKE UP SPACE. You are beautiful. This is our time. 🖤.”

During her Today interview, Kouatchou appeared again on the second she realized that she was not the understudy, however the star.

She pointed to the time she sang “Think of Me” with the orchestra, saying, “I just remember getting, like, so choked up I couldn’t remember the song.”

The former Great White Way star famous that one of the primary causes she has been capable of break down obstacles is as a result of she noticed ladies of shade performing when she was a baby.

“I think it makes all the difference. I grew up seeing people like Audra McDonald and Heather Headley on stage, being excellent,” she mentioned. “They were the people that gave me hope that I could have a career in this. If they hadn’t done what they had done, I probably wouldn’t be here.”

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