Kara Young (Getty Images for Tony Awards Pro)

In an article written by Rebecca Sun in The Hollywood Reporter, she highlights a startling fact: entertainment executives in Hollywood deliberately forfeit up to $30 billion a year due to racial inequity. Over three reports, McKinsey has tallied up the entertainment industry’s opportunity cost of continuing to diminish Black, Latino, and Asian Pacific Islander colleagues and audiences.

This is old-fashioned and continued racism. And “they” dare ask “us” why we can’t move away from the past? How can any of us so grossly discriminated against move away from the very thing that has its foot pressed hard on our proverbial necks?

Shame on you, Hollywood, for being filled with fear. That’s what all the “isms” are when you drill down to what makes scaredy cats like “them” shake in their proverbial boots. Weakness and fear are the flimsy foundations of these billion-dollar losses.

This horrible statistical fact was swirling around my mind as I watched Kara Young accept her Tony Award. I’ve been bragging about Young since the day I met her, which was October 19th, 2021, at the press meet and greet for the play “CLYDE’s,” written by two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage and directed by Kate Whoriskey.

The story centered around Clyde (Uzo Aduba), a tough-as-nails owner of her sandwich joint, and her kitchen staff (the late Ron Cephas Jones, Edmund Donovan, Reza Salazar, and Young). This is where Young made her Broadway debut playing Letitia, a struggling mother who was incarcerated for stealing seizure medication from a pharmacy for her then three-year-old daughter

It was clear to me and a host of others that we were watching someone special blossom. Over the years, this petite powerhouse has made others proclaim the same sentiment: she is, without question, the next generation of great actresses like the ancestors Ruby Dee and Cicely Tyson. Yes, Kara Young is that good, but that’s really not what makes a legend. It’s not. There are billions of good actresses but a handful of legends.

It takes a spark — the best way I can think of explaining it is like this: imagine catching lightning in a bottle over and over again, watching it grow, never breaking the glass… just expanding as it grows brighter and brighter. That’s Young.

Kara Young, left,  and L.A. Sentinel reporter Magrira (L.M. Sandoval)

She is already in the theatrical history books as the first African American actor to get a Tony nomination three years in a row before she took home her 2024 Tony Award for Featured Actress in a Play for her work as Lutiebelle Gussie Mae Jenkins in the Broadway revival of Ossie Davis’ “Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch.”

Her road to this legend status is already in motion with wins besides the Tony Award under her belt. She received a Drama Desk Nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play. In 2024, Young received her second Drama Desk nomination for Outstanding Featured Performance in a Play in the Pulitzer Prize winner, Cost of Living. Her other accolades include an Obie Award, an Audelco Award, and a Drama Desk nomination for her portrayal of Viola in Classical Theatre of Harlem’s Twelfth Night; the inaugural Florence Mills Rising Star Award from Black Women on Broadway; and a Theatre World Award. Her other stage credits include All The Natalie Portmans, Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven, The New Englanders, The Revolving Cycles Truly and Steadily Roll’d, Syncing Ink, and Pretty Hunger. She will next appear as a series regular in the highly anticipated Amazon series, “I’m a Virgo,” created by Boots Riley. Previous TV credits include HBO Max’s “The Staircase;” Amazon’s feature “Chemical Hearts;” HBO’s “Random Acts of Flyness;” and Netflix’s “The Punisher.”

I ran into Kara Young at the 2024 Indie Spirit Awards during the award season. She was there promoting her role in the Boots Riley-created Amazon series, I’m a Virgo. The series itself was nominated for Best New Scripted Series (though BEEF took home the award that night).

It was her smile that I saw first. We both did a double blink since we were on the beach in sunny Santa Monica, California, far away from Harlem, which we both call home. Then a hug. A very tight hug.

And the McKinsey report from the previous year popped into my brain. How can Hollywood deliberately forfeit up to $30 billion a year because of racial inequity? I fear that amount is not an accurate figure. They lose more. They lose the Kara Youngs of the world — on purpose.

Thank goodness the Broadway community has woken up and is supporting gifted people from all walks of life. What a hit Hollywood is taking by deliberately trying to stifle gifted storytellers. I recall my father telling me squarely and gently that “fear will kill you in the end” — and Hollywood wonders why they are suffering at the box office.


Here is the report from 2021



Here is the report from 2024