Story at a glance:

  • Karen Olivo is taking a stand against abuse in the musical theater industry.
    • The Tony Award winning actress says she’s stepping away from the theater as a form of activism.
    • Olivo said people are “scared” to call out abusers, following reports that producer Scott Rudin was allegedly violent and abusive to his staff.

Karen Olivo is one of the leading Latina actresses on Broadway and a Tony Award winner. However, she prefers being a social justice advocate over her return to a hit musical. 

Olivo posted a five-minute Instagram video on Wednesday explaining her decision to back out of her signature role as Satine in “Moulin Rouge! The Musical.” The show is currently suspended due to the pandemic.


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“I don’t need to be on stage, I need to be out here. People are more important than your pocketbook,” Olivo said. “That’s it, that’s all that needs to be said from here on out. I value humanity more...I want a theater industry that matches my integrity.” 

The 44-year-old Bronx native implied that people were getting hurt behind the musical scene, encouraging those who work in the industry to divest from Broadway until the “integrity” is there.

 

In reference to the pocketbook comment, she was talking about producer Scott Rudin’s allegedly violent and abusive behavior toward his staff members, as reported in a recent Hollywood Reporter story.

Olivo has appeared in the revival of “West Side Story,” which she won a Tony Award for in 2009, and Broadway shows like “In the Heights,” “Rent,” and “Brooklyn: The Musical.” 

She is living in Madison, Wis., with her husband, who is a teacher.

“Social justice is actually more important than being the sparkling diamond,” Olivo, referencing a song from “Moulin Rouge,” said in the video. “Building a better industry is more important than putting money in my pockets.” 

She noted that many of their colleagues in the industry seem to be “scared” and are not speaking out about injustice.


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Published on Apr 16, 2021