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Black Theatre United's Interns Reflect on Their Unforgettable Summer

Jade Underwood and Honestine Mbuyenge, two members of this year’s Black Theatre United internship program, share their insights after spending a summer marketing Broadway's biggest shows.

Honestine Mbuyenge and Jade Underwood, two members of Black Theatre United's 2023 Broadway Marketing Internship Cohort.

Black Theatre United, in partnership with five leading live entertainment marketing companies, hosted its second annual Broadway Marketing Internship Program this summer. The cohort, 12 interns from across the country, spent their summers immersed in research, creative development, art direction, media planning, content creation, and production. Founded to create new opportunities for emerging Black talent in all areas of theatre, this program provided its participants with unparalleled hands-on training in the Broadway marketing world. 

Jade Underwood and Honestine Mbuyenge, two members of this year’s cohort who interned at Situation Group, wrote a reflection on their experience for Inspired. Read their insights below!

Come March 2023, the biggest fear of every college student was consuming Jade: she didn’t have a summer internship. Life caught up with her in all its madness, and she realized she had missed an embarrassing amount of deadlines. With senior year fast approaching, she was terrified that she would be left behind—that is until she stumbled upon an opportunity in a serendipitous search for theater internships that was too good to be true. With housing, transportation, and a stipend provided, all to work with Broadway marketing agencies in the heart of New York, she knew that interning with Black Theatre United was a chance occurrence she could not let pass her by.

For Honestine, the discovery of the BTU Broadway Marketing Internship involved significantly fewer heart palpitations. Nearing the end of her senior year at Arizona State University, her membership in her school’s Black Theatre Organization placed the application for the internship in the palm of her hands. Given that her school’s organization similarly valued creating equity for BIPOC artists, the organization’s director had been in contact with BTU for a while. Thus, when the opportunity for the internship was shared, Honestine did not hesitate to apply. 

As BTU partners with various Broadway marketing agencies in the city, Honestine and Jade were both given the opportunity to share which company they were most drawn to work with. For both, working with Situation Group was a no-brainer: Situation Group pursues marketing initiatives to get diverse and underrepresented stories and voices into the theater, one seat at a time.

It’s no wonder that BTU partnered with Situation. As Michael McElroy, one of the founders of BTU, put it, BTU was created because “Our industry was silent when everything shut down during the pandemic…Black artists were hurting, and we needed to come together to share our pain but also to lift each other up. We were isolated, and most of us were incapable of working. It was imperative that we engage in conversations in order to take our pain, hurt, and rage and channel it into making change for our community.” With many black lives being senselessly destroyed during and before 2020, the founders of BTU found power in creating opportunities for the rising generations. 

With both interns coming from performance backgrounds, they were unsure what working with a marketing agency would be like. However, the internship opened them up to an entirely new side of the entertainment industry. Through a workshop at Meta, they were introduced to Hjordys Perez Matos, the Fashion and Beauty Consultant at Instagram. Matos shared her journey from her performance background to the marketing world, stressing the unique insights that a career pivot can afford. Later, they met with David Stone, a producer of Wicked, where they learned about the intricacies of navigating a Broadway titan. Through these workshops (and many others), they learned how powerful marketing can be in creating positive representation and change by allowing people to see themselves in the art they consume.

Each week, they shadowed different departments at Situation Group, from media to accounts to social and creative. They gained invaluable knowledge from each group, empowering them to think about their professional and artistic goals in new ways. This is good news to Lisa Dawn Cave, another founder of BTU, who shared that she wants BTU interns to take away “that [they] belong in those rooms and, if given the opportunity, [they] can thrive.”

Honestine and Jade with their mentors and coworkers at Situation Group.

Allyson Tucker-Mitchell, another BTU founder, shared that she wants interns to, “seek to be the best version of [themselves], and [their] blessings will flow to [them].” As two people striving to push themselves and each other to their fullest potential, that is advice Honestine and Jade can certainly vouch for. 

Despite Honestine and Jade’s determination to take the internship by storm, they did not have to do it alone. Along with the many other amazing opportunities the BTU interns were gifted during their experience, they were also given mentors who guided them. These mentors were black theater professionals working on Broadway, either behind the scenes or right on stage. McElroy shared that part of the importance of the mentorship aspect of the program is to “recognize that we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. It is imperative that we give that back to the next generation by offering our time, wisdom, and support through mentorship.”

Honestine and Jade after their workshop at The New York Times.

Honestine and Jade are excited about the continued evolution of the Black Theatre United Broadway Marketing internship, even after they leave. It is a priceless opportunity that they hope others who wouldn’t otherwise get this chance can fully take advantage of. They advise interns who come after them to come in with an open, curious mind and be ready to fully live in the moment because they can promise you that those eight weeks fly by fast! BTU, your fellow interns, and your company are all here to support you. Oh, and by the way… have fun seeing all those Broadway shows!

Honestine and Jade extend their gratitude to the BTU founders, the rest of the intern cohort, Situation Group, Meta, The New York Times, Serino Coyne, AKA, RPM, Spotco, TodayTix Group, and all other partner organizations for providing them with the opportunity to expand their networks, industry knowledge, and future goals.