A mother-daughter duo is taking over Broadway this winter in the productions of A Christmas Carol and Jagged Little Pill. LaChanze stars as the Ghost of Christmas Present in A Christmas Carol while her daughter Celia Rose Gooding makes her Broadway debut starring as Frankie in Jagged Little Pill.
While doing so, the two have made history, being the first African-American mother and daughter to perform on Broadway at the same time.
“I’m grateful that I have this career, but imagining the fact that my daughter would also be doing this at the same time is very rewarding,” said LaChanze. “As a Black woman, we see so many other mother and daughter teams on film and television. Oftentimes we see children taking over the professions of their parents, but rarely do we see it in theater where it's successful.”
Both LaChanze and Celia Rose have expressed the lack of representation of powerful Black women in theater and take pride in their accomplishments together. Celia Rose says that “as Black women, we are told that there's only so much that we can do.” She continued to say that it’s exciting for her to share another aspect of what Black women are capable of.
And while Celia Rose has seemingly followed her mother’s footsteps, LaChanze, a former star in the Broadway production of The Color Purple, didn’t want her to pursue theater and even put forth efforts to make sure both of her daughters had other interests.
“I didn’t want her to do this at all. I know this life can be disappointing, challenging, competitive and limiting to time,” said LaChanze. “I didn't want this for her, but I always knew that Celia had talent. But it's one thing when you don't want it, but you're growing up in it. So, you know, she found her way without me even getting involved.”
Celia Rose recalls her mother making it clear to her that if she wanted to pursue theater, it had to be what she really wanted for herself. But, of course, she has utilized her mother’s help along the way. She views her mom as her “badass secret weapon” and appreciates the support. Celia was able to make connections through LaChanze which ultimately landed her the role in Jagged Little Pill.
She plays Frankie, a Black teenager who was adopted into a white family and advocates for equity and acceptance for all people. Celia says that although she wasn’t adopted herself, she understands how it feels to be a Black girl in a white space, which is why she emphasizes the importance of seeing “reflections of ourselves doing well and in powerful places.”
She explained that her role allows her to share an important story and say what she feels a lot of Black people don’t necessarily feel safe to share.
“Being in predominantly white spaces and only seeing white people in positions of power and in positions of positivity is damaging because it subconsciously puts the idea in our minds that we are not capable of this greatness and the only standing outlier is our skin tone,” said Celia Rose. “I think being able to voice that publicly, and in truth is really, really important for a lot of people to see and I'm so grateful I get to be the one to say that.”
As Celia Rose tackles a larger issue on stage, LaChanze emphasizes that above her role as the Ghost of Christmas Present, she has the role of a mother. She plans on being in the audience to cheer on her daughter as she makes her Broadway debut.
“I'm taking off the night from my show to go to her opening,” said LaChanze. “That was something that was contractual for me. It was actually a deal breaker and if they didn't give me the day off I would have turned down the job because I can't miss this significant life moment for her.”
And while LaChanze sees this moment as significant just for her daughter, it is the same for both of them as they make history together. A Christmas Carol is now on Broadway for the holiday season, and opening night for Jagged Little Pill is set for December 5.
EDITOR’S NOTE: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that LaChanze and Celia Rose Gooding were the first mother and daughter to appear on Broadway simultaneously. They are the first Black mother and daughter to appear on Broadway simultaneously.
(Photo: Tim Yates)