Vinnette Justine Carroll: First African-American Woman to Direct a Play On Broadway

Written by Jae Jones

Known for her incredible contributions to American theaters, Vinnette Justine Carroll was the first African-American woman to direct on Broadway, with 1972 musical, “Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope.”

Carrol was born in New York City, to Edgar Edgerton, a dentist, and Florence Carroll. Her family moved to Jamaica when she was three, and she spent most of her childhood growing up there and in the West Indies. Carroll’s father encouraged his daughters to become physicians, and she chose psychology. However, she later left the field of psychology to study theater. She then accepted a scholarship and attended Erwin Piscator’s Dramatic Worship at the New school for Research. Carroll is the only African American to receive a Tony nomination for Direction.

Carroll later founded the Urban Arts Corps, which was a non-profit, interracial community theater, where she served as artistic director. She offered acting and professional workshop lessons to aspiring young actors living in poverty stricken areas. Carroll was also a member of the Black Theater Alliance and the Off-Off Broadway Alliance, with support from the New York State Council on the Arts, the National Endowment of the Arts, and the Edward Noble Foundation.

Carroll began her collaboration with Micki Grant in 1972 to direct a production on Broadway “Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope.” The play later opened at the Playhouse Theater.


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About the author

Jae Jones

Jae Jones has been writing professionally for over 10 years. She holds a degree in Business Administration, and enjoys writing on various topics.

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