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How Jocelyn Bioh Brought ‘Jaja's African Hair Braiding’ to Broadway

The Ghanaian American playwright, who turned from acting to writing, in the hopes of bringing more stories that center Black women to the fore, debuts her new show.

It was during a school trip to Broadway that Jocelyn Bioh first felt the magic that comes from being in a darkened room with others, taking in a show, listening to the music, watching the dancing. A production of George C. Wolfe’s Jelly’s Last Jam, the musical review, had her enraptured, she tells OkayAfrica. “I just remember being so wowed by it all; by the lights and the cool costumes, the incredible singing and the dancing – Gregory Hines was in it. And I couldn't believe I was at a Broadway show.” Jelly’s Last Jam was the Ghanaian American’s first glimpse of a future – her future – in the theater.

But it wasn’t as if a clear path set itself out from that moment. Bioh’s parents, who emigrated from Ghana in the late '60s, had the customary hopes for her to follow a more traditional career path of doctor or engineer. That Broadway encounter, however, set in motion the steps that would lead to where she is today: returning to Broadway, all these years later, this time with her name in lights. Read more

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