Free panel discussion  –  ‘Is Hollywood Changing? Diversity and Inclusion in the Entertainment Industry’ – takes place on June 7

SARASOTA, FL – The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) is pleased to offer a summertime installment of its popular WBTT Voices program, with “Is Hollywood Changing? Diversity and Inclusion in the Entertainment Industry.” The panel discussion, which features artists from the theatre, television, film, and music industry, takes place on Thursday, June 7, 5:30-6:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public but reservations are required. 

The panelists are: Joel P. E. King, an actor, director, playwright and music composer whose most recent theatrical work, Real Life, is being presented at WBTT from June 6-16. King has performed in several past WBTT shows; Kendra C. Johnson, a model and film and television actress who can currently be seen on Tyler Perry’s hit TV comedy, Love Thy Neighbor; Andrea Kelly, a choreographer and principle dancer who currently stars in VH1’s “Hollywood Exes”; Ptosha Storey, a versatile theatre, television and film actor, singer, voice-over specialist, director and acting coach who has worked with Tyler Perry and on the FOX TV hit show, Empire; and Kerwin Young, a premiere media and concert composer, recording producer, and multi-musician who is a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee. For 30 years, he was a member of Public Enemy as a core member of its production team, the Bomb Squad. 

The panelists will discuss their experiences as artists of color and their thoughts about whether they believe changes are occurring that allow them to better pursue their goals in the creative fields.

The moderator is Edna Sherrell, community activist and English teacher at Booker High School. WBTT frequently partners with Booker High on community projects; the school’s Visual & Performing Arts program trains and mentors young people who are exploring careers in the arts and entertainment industries. Sherrell is a member of WBTT’s Advisory Board.

"At WBTT, our focus continues to be on the African-American experience and issues. We have many artists who perform with us who tell us that their opportunities tend to be more limited in other communities they’ve lived or performed in,” said WBTT executive director Julie Leach. “Our nation continues to struggle with racial inequality and artists of color often do not have the opportunities available to others. We are so pleased to have a panel of artists with such depth and professional experience to help shine a light on the current state – and their take on the future prospects – of diversity and inclusion on stages, screens and studios across America.”

The WBTT Voices program, a free service WBTT offers for the community, examines the people and issues that have shaped the African-American experience in our country. WBTT Voices was launched in 2014; all programs have been at full capacity.

WBTT Voices programs take place at the Westcoast Black Theatre (1012 N. Orange Ave., Sarasota). The event is free but reservations must be made by calling the Box Office at (941) 366-1505 or reserving a seat at westcoastblacktheatre.org.

About Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe:

The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe of Florida, Inc. is the only professional black theater company on Florida’s West Coast. The mission is to produce professional theatre that promotes and celebrates the African-American experience, to attract diverse audiences, to support and develop African-American artists, and to build the self-esteem of African-American youth. For more information on WBTT, visit the website at westcoastblacktheatre.org or call (941) 366-1505.

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