23 Black Stars Who Shined On Broadway Through The Years

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This post is part of a weekly series celebrating #ThrowbackThursday with reflections of our favorite childhood memories, past pop culture moments and more!

Taye Diggs made his debut on Broadway Wednesday when he hit the stage as Hedwig in "Hedwig and the Angry Inch." Meanwhile, Brandy -- another of one our favorites -- will soon end her run as Roxie in"Chicago" on August 2. These talented performers are just two among a long list of countless stars who have graced Broadway stages over the years.

From legends like Debbie Allen to younger performers like Keke Palmer, here are 23 black stars that have lit up the "Great White Way" over the years:

KeKe Palmer

<p>KeKe Palmer played the <a href="http://www.nbcnews.com/watch/nightly-news/keke-palmer-is-first-african-american-cinderella-on-broadway-327066179599">leading role in "Cinderella," </a>which ran from September 2014 through the beginning of 2015. She was the first African-American to play Cinderella on Broadway.</p>

KeKe Palmer played the leading role in "Cinderella," which ran from September 2014 through the beginning of 2015. She was the first African-American to play Cinderella on Broadway.

Nene Leakes

<p>NeNe Leakes <a href="http://www.playbill.com/news/article/cinderella-to-close-on-broadway-real-housewives-star-nene-leakes-joins-cast-328591">played Cinderella's wicked stepmother</a> "Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella" in 2014. </p>

NeNe Leakes played Cinderella's wicked stepmother "Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella" in 2014. 

Billy Porter

<p><a href="http://www.playbillvault.com/Person/Detail/106980/Billy-Porter">Billy Porter in his current role</a> as Lola in "Kinky Boots," which will run through August 2. Previously, he has starred in "Miss Saigon" (1999) and "Grease" (1994).</p>

Billy Porter in his current role as Lola in "Kinky Boots," which will run through August 2. Previously, he has starred in "Miss Saigon" (1999) and "Grease" (1994).

Denzel Washington

<p><a href="http://www.playbillvault.com/Person/Detail/74505/Denzel-Washington">Denzel Washington stared as Walter Lee Younger</a> in 2014's "A Raisin In The Sun." He also starred in "Fences" in 2010 and "Julius Ceasar" in 2005.</p>

Denzel Washington stared as Walter Lee Younger in 2014's "A Raisin In The Sun." He also starred in "Fences" in 2010 and "Julius Ceasar" in 2005.

James Monroe Iglehart

<p><a href="http://www.playbill.com/celebritybuzz/article/playbill.coms-cue-a-the-genie-of-broadways-aladdin-james-monroe-iglehart-216161">James Monroe Iglehart is Genie</a> in "Aladdin." The show is currently running. </p>

James Monroe Iglehart is Genie in "Aladdin." The show is currently running. 

Raven-Symoné

<p>Raven-Symoné made her Broadway <a href="http://www.broadway.com/videos/153981/on-the-scene-raven-symone-bows-in-sister-act/">debut as Deloris Van Cartier</a> in 2012's "Sister Act."</p>

Raven-Symoné made her Broadway debut as Deloris Van Cartier in 2012's "Sister Act."

Deborah Cox

<p>In 2013, Deborah Cox <a href="http://www.broadwayworld.com/people/Deborah-Cox/">starred as the feisty Lucy</a> in "Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical." Her leading Broadway debut was in 2014 as Aida. </p>

In 2013, Deborah Cox starred as the feisty Lucy in "Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical." Her leading Broadway debut was in 2014 as Aida. 

Sean "Diddy" Combs

<a href="http://www.playbill.com/news/article/sean-p.-diddy-combs-to-star-in-a-raisin-in-the-sun-revival-116931">Diddy hit the Broadway</a> stage in 2004 as Walter Lee in "A Raisin in the Sun."
Diddy hit the Broadway stage in 2004 as Walter Lee in "A Raisin in the Sun."

Debbie Allen

<p><a href="http://www.broadwayworld.com/people/Debbie-Allen/">Debbie Allen is a Broadway legend </a>with titles under her belt like "Sweet Charity" (1986), "West Side Story" (1980), "Alice" (1978), "Ain’t Misbehavin’" (1978) and more. She also directed "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" (2008) and choreographed "Carrie" (1988).</p>

Debbie Allen is a Broadway legend with titles under her belt like "Sweet Charity" (1986), "West Side Story" (1980), "Alice" (1978), "Ain’t Misbehavin’" (1978) and more. She also directed "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" (2008) and choreographed "Carrie" (1988).

Leslie Uggams

<p>Making her debut in "Hallelujah, Baby!," Leslie Uggams' legacy on Broadway <a href="http://www.broadwayworld.com/people/Leslie-Uggams/">extends from 1967 to 2005</a>.</p>

Making her debut in "Hallelujah, Baby!," Leslie Uggams' legacy on Broadway extends from 1967 to 2005.

Vanessa Williams

<p><a href="http://www.broadwayworld.com/people/Vanessa-Williams/">Vanessa Williams's first Broadway performance </a>was in "Death and the King's Horseman" in 1987. Since then, she has conquered roles in "Mule Bone" (1991), "Kiss of the Spider Woman" (1993), "The Trip to Bountiful" (2013), "After Midnight" (2013) and more.</p>

Vanessa Williams's first Broadway performance was in "Death and the King's Horseman" in 1987. Since then, she has conquered roles in "Mule Bone" (1991), "Kiss of the Spider Woman" (1993), "The Trip to Bountiful" (2013), "After Midnight" (2013) and more.

Cicely Tyson

<p>Cicely Tyson made her first Broadway performance in "Jolly's Progress" in 1959. Since then, she's appeared in seven Broadway performances. She's slated to return to the stage in "The Gin Game" <a href="http://www.ibdb.com/person.php?id=62877">starring as Fonsia Dorsey this October</a>. </p>

Cicely Tyson made her first Broadway performance in "Jolly's Progress" in 1959. Since then, she's appeared in seven Broadway performances. She's slated to return to the stage in "The Gin Game" starring as Fonsia Dorsey this October

Viola Davis

<p>Viola Davis <a href="http://www.broadwayworld.com/people/Viola-Davis/">made her Broadway debut</a> as Vera in the 1996 play, "Seven Guitars." Her most recent role was <a href="http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/culture/lat-hollywood-stage-wre0004416965-20100413-photo.html">Rose in "Fences,"</a> opposite of Denzel Washington in 2010. </p>

Viola Davis made her Broadway debut as Vera in the 1996 play, "Seven Guitars." Her most recent role was Rose in "Fences," opposite of Denzel Washington in 2010. 

Fantasia Barrino

<p>Fantasia made her <a href="http://www.broadway.com/buzz/stars/fantasia-barrino/profile/">broadway debut as Celie</a> in "The Color Purple" in 2007. She returned to the stage in "After Midnight" in 2014.</p>

Fantasia made her broadway debut as Celie in "The Color Purple" in 2007. She returned to the stage in "After Midnight" in 2014.

Phylicia Rashad

Like her sister Debbie Allen, Phylicia Rashad has also <a href="http://www.broadwayworld.com/people/Phylicia-Rashad/">left her mark on Broadway</a> with roles in "The Wiz" (1975), "Dreamgirls" (1981), "A Raisin in the Sun" (2004) and more.
Like her sister Debbie Allen, Phylicia Rashad has also left her mark on Broadway with roles in "The Wiz" (1975), "Dreamgirls" (1981), "A Raisin in the Sun" (2004) and more.

Condola Rashad

<p><a href="http://www.playbillvault.com/Person/Detail/120856/Condola-Rashad">Condola Rashad,</a> Phylicia Rashad's daughter, starred as Juliet in "Romeo and Juliet" in 2013. </p>

Condola Rashad, Phylicia Rashad's daughter, starred as Juliet in "Romeo and Juliet" in 2013. 

Audra McDonald

<p>The list of Audra McDonald's Broadway <a href="http://www.broadwayworld.com/people/Audra-McDonald/">credits are endless</a>. She made her debut in 1994 starring in the role of Carrie Pipperidge in "Carousel." Her most recent performance was the leading role in 2014's "Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill." </p>

The list of Audra McDonald's Broadway credits are endless. She made her debut in 1994 starring in the role of Carrie Pipperidge in "Carousel." Her most recent performance was the leading role in 2014's "Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill." 

Brian McKnight

Singer <a href="http://www.playbillvault.com/Person/Detail/111012/Brian-McKnight">Brian McKnight showed his moves</a> as Billy Flynn in "Chicago" in 2007.
Singer Brian McKnight showed his moves as Billy Flynn in "Chicago" in 2007.

Angie Stone

<p><a href="http://www.playbill.com/news/article/grammy-nominee-angie-stone-to-join-broadways-chicago-112416/print">Angie Stone starred in "Chicago"</a> as Matron “Mama” Morton alongside Brian McKnight in 2003. </p>

Angie Stone starred in "Chicago" as Matron “Mama” Morton alongside Brian McKnight in 2003. 

Nikki M. James

<p>Nikki M. James is best known for her roles in "Les Misérables" which she starred in earlier this year and "The Book of Mormon" in 2011, the latter of which landed her a <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qpZBJdbVL8">Tony award</a>.</p>

Nikki M. James is best known for her roles in "Les Misérables" which she starred in earlier this year and "The Book of Mormon" in 2011, the latter of which landed her a Tony award.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story indicated Debbie Allen is Phylicia Rashad’s good friend. It has been updated to note that Allen is her sister.

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