Emilie Kouatchou, First Black Christine in ‘Phantom of the Opera’

In Summary

Emilie Koutachou makes 33-year history as she is cast as the leading role in The Phantom of the Opera.

Musical theater star Emilie Kouatchou makes history as she is the first Black woman to cast as Christine in The Phantom of the Opera. 

“I put so much pressure on myself up until then that that day I was like, ‘You know what? I’m just going to forget about it and live my best life up there,’” she says. “That night was like the most fun I’ve had in a long time.” 

Raised outside Chicago in Palatine, Illinois, Kouatchou began performing at 9 years old. She is a 2019 graduate of the University of Michigan’s musical theatre program and landed her first gig in the show Oklahoma! at Broadway At Music Circus.  

Production supervisor and executive producer Seth Skylar-Heyn, who took part in selecting her for the role, says her performance in New York on Broadway at this time in the world resonates that much more.  

The rise of the pandemic resulted in live theatre being at a standstill for 18 months. This was a challenging time for Kouatchou. “It was really hard, and I’m not going to sugarcoat it,” she says. She began thinking of other ways to make money, and even contemplated going to business school or getting certified as a yoga instructor.  

Her historical role in theatre has empowered young people and has been receiving Instagram messages from those who are inspired. “I love seeing those messages because it just makes it feel like even when I’m really nervous about the show, I’m doing something for a higher purpose.” 

The show is based on a novel by Gaston Lerous that focuses on a character who haunts the Paris Opera House and falls in love with Kouatchou’s young soprano character Christine.  

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