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Opening Keynote: Charles Randolph Wright

Black Box-Power Station 441 W 53rd St, New York, NY 10019

CHARLES RANDOLPH-WRIGHT has built a dynamic and diversified career in directing, writing, and producing for theatre, television, and film.  

He was the Producing Director and Executive Producer (with Oprah Winfrey) on the television series DELILAH on OWN, and recently directed the acclaimed Broadway premiere of Alice Childress’ TROUBLE IN MIND at the Roundabout. 

 Upcoming is the world premiere of AMERICAN PROPHET: FREDERICK DOUGLASS IN HIS OWN WORDS (which he co-wrote with Grammy winner Marcus Hummon) at Arena Stage in D.C.

 For television, Charles directed episodes of the series THE BIG LEAP, GREENLEAF, KATY KEENE, STEP UP HIGHWATER, LINCOLN HEIGHTS, and SOUTH OF NOWHERE. Charles directed and co-produced Bebe Winans’ special AMERICA AMERICA, and co-produced AN EVENING WITH BERRY GORDY. He was producer and writer of the critically acclaimed series LINC’S. His musical staging has been seen on a variety of programs, including THE GOLDEN GIRLS. Charles has directed many videos and commercials, including the award winning European “Freestyle” campaign for Nike.

His feature film directorial debut, PREACHING TO THE CHOIR, swept the feature film prizes at the American Black Film Festival, and was featured in numerous festivals (including the Pan African Film Fest, Cannes, and London). He is an Executive Producer of the film MAURICE HINES: BRING THEM BACK, which won the Grand Jury Prize of the NY Documentary Film Festival and the Jury Award at ABFF. Charles has written screenplays for Showtime, Walt Disney Pictures, HBO, and 20th Century Fox. He also co-wrote the screenplay WHITE CHOCOLATE (with John Leguizamo). 

For the theatre, Charles directed the smash hit MOTOWN THE MUSICAL (Broadway, London, and the National Tour), the Broadway bound musical BORN FOR THIS (Alliance Theatre, Cutler Majestic Theatre), which he co-wrote with gospel icon Bebe Winans, the Pulitzer prize winning play RUINED and the record breaking musical SOPHISTICATED LADIES (starring Maurice Hines) at Arena Stage, GUYS AND DOLLS (50th anniversary national tour), the 75th anniversary tour of the opera PORGY AND BESS, Brian Stokes Mitchell in his solo show LOVE/LIFE at Lincoln Center, Daniel Beaty’s THROUGH THE NIGHT at the Union Square Theatre and the Geffen Theatre, THEY’RE PLAYING OUR SONG (in Portuguese) in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, Brasil, BLOOD KNOT at ACT in San Francisco (featuring music by Tracy Chapman), and CABARET VERBOTEN at the Mark Taper Forum (with Bebe Neuwirth and Roger Rees).

Charles directed and co-wrote THE DIVA IS DISMISSED (starring Jenifer Lewis) at the NYSF Public Theater, ME AND MRS. JONES (a musical which starred Lou Rawls featuring the classic music of the Sound of Philadelphia) at the Prince Music Theatre, and HOMEWORK (starring Kim Coles) in NYC, LA, and NJ at Crossroads Theatre. He directed the world premieres of TOUGH TITTY by Oni Faida Lampley at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, AKEELAH AND THE BEE for the CTC in Minneapolis and Arena Stage, and SENOR DISCRETION HIMSELF, (the last musical written by Frank Loesser, based on a story by Budd Schulberg, and co-written with Culture Clash).

He also directed TARTUFFE, INSURRECTION: HOLDING HISTORY, and BLITHE SPIRIT at ACT, HAIR ... FOR THE NEXT GENERATION, the 20th anniversary event at the United Nations (which was the first benefit of its kind for children with AIDS), and MUSIC AND REMEMBRANCE (starring Leontyne Price, Itzhak Perlman, and James Galway) at Carnegie Hall.

Charles wrote the play BLUE, starring Phylicia Rashad, which broke box office records at Arena Stage (where Charles is an inaugural resident playwright). BLUE has had many productions throughout the United States, including the Roundabout Theatre and the Pasadena Playhouse (which starred Ms. Rashad, Diahann Carroll, and Clifton Davis). Charles also wrote CUTTIN’ UP (based upon the best selling book by Craig Marberry), THE NIGHT IS A CHILD (starring JoBeth Williams), LOVE IN AFGHANISTAN, and co-wrote BEA ARTHUR ON BROADWAY:JUST BETWEEN FRIENDS, which toured internationally, including a Tony-nominated run on Broadway. 

Charles’ productions have received numerous awards, including NAACP Image, Bay Area Critics, Drama-logue, LA Weekly Theatre, Helen Hayes, Ovation, and Audelco as well as Grammy and Tony nominations.  Charles was awarded grants from the Theatre Communications Group, the Pew Charitable Trusts, the NEA, the Edgerton Foundation New American Plays Award, and also is the recipient of the S.C. Medal of Honor in the Arts, the Creative Spirit Award from the New Professional Theatre, The Pasadena Playhouse Theatrical Diversity Award, an honorary MFA from ACT, and the Paul Robeson Award from Actors’ Equity. 

 As a performer, Charles’ credits include Broadway (the original cast of DREAMGIRLS), television (HILL STREET BLUES, MELROSE PLACE, FALCON CREST), music (a disco group which will remain nameless that nonetheless garnered three gold records), film, numerous shows in theatre, and countless television commercials.  

A native of York, South Carolina, Charles is an honor graduate of Duke University where he was an A.B. Duke Scholar and recently received the Distinguished Alumni Award. He serves on the Advisory Committee of the American Theatre Wing, the Board of Directors of the Roundabout Theatre, is an associate artist at The Young Vic, a board member of the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives, and is a founding member of the Wright Family Foundation of South Carolina. Charles’ website is