A young talent who cemented himself into history when he stepped onto the Broadway stage has tragically passed away, leaving his dream and an incredible influence behind.
Kyle Jean-Baptiste is the youngest and the first black actor to ever fill the role of Jean Valjean in the Broadway production of “Les Misérables” Sadly, a fall from the fire escape of his mother’s fourth floor Brooklyn apartment this past Friday led to his unfortunate demise. His death comes just one day after his final show and he took to Instagram to celebrate his greatest accomplishment with this caption:
“What an incredible experience. I’ve learned and grown so much. Grateful for the people I’ve met and this opportunity. I will never forget it. Dedicating this performance to someone special to me. They know who they are. Also sending love to everyone who supported me. Family friends etc. Until next time.”
The tragedy behind those last lines is incredibly haunting, but Jean-Baptiste will continue to live on through his performances and those he has inspired to push through any boundaries constructed by race.
He told HuffPost Live back in July that when he was younger he dreamed of playing Valjean on Broadway, but never thought he would land the role because he was black. He continued, “Now that I’ve done the role, I’ve realized how this news can inspire.”
Jean-Baptiste has set the stage for young black men like himself, who consider their color a roadblock on the way to their dreams. With an infectious charisma and a passion for achieving his goals, it is such a tragic loss for the world of entertainment.
Producer of “Les Misérables” Cameron Mackintosh said in a statement:
“The tragic loss of Kyle to our company, just as he was on the threshold of a brilliant career, is a numbing reminder of how precious life is.”
And the company released a statement expressing their condolences to Jean-Baptiste’s family:
“The entire Les Misérables family is shocked and devastated by the sudden and tragic loss of Kyle, a remarkable young talent and tremendous person who made magic – and history – in his Broadway debut. We send our deepest condolences to his family and ask that you respect their privacy in this unimaginably difficult time.”
Jean-Baptiste was only 21 years old and was set to join the Broadway production of “The Color Purple” in September.
Though the world may never know how high his ceiling could have reached, the glimmers of greatness will always remain in the hearts of his audiences, fellow actors, and his loved ones.