EXCLUSIVE: ‘Hairspray Live!’ Rounds Out Cast With Broadway Stars Ephraim Sykes and Shahadi Wright Joseph

Photo by NBC
The duo is bringing their musical chops to TV as Seaweed and Little Inez in the highly anticipated production. 

It’s official: Seaweed J. Stubbs and Little Inez have officially been cast in NBC’s highly anticipated production of Hairspray Live! 

Broadway stage pros Ephraim Sykes and Shahadi Wright Joseph, NBC tells ESSENCE exclusively. The pair join an already stellar lineup that includes original Hairspray alum Harvey Fierstein, Jennifer Hudson, Ariana Grande and more. 

In Hairspray Live!, teenager Tracy Turnblad dreams of dancing on “The Corny Collins Show,” a local TV program. When against all odds Tracy wins a role on the show, she becomes a celebrity overnight and meets a colorful array of characters. Tracy’s mother is the indomitable Edna, and she eventually encourages Tracy on her campaign to integrate the all-white “Corny Collins Show.”

Seaweed J. Stubbs is a hip and kind-hearted dancer who befriends Tracy in detention and teaches her some new moves. He is also the son of Motormouth Maybelle (Jennifer Hudson) and falls in love with Tracy’s best friend, Penny (Ariana Grande). Little Inez is Seaweed’s younger sister, who tries to audition for “The Corny Collins Show,” but is at first turned away because she is African-American.

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Sykes has been a member of the 11 Tony Award-winning “Hamilton” company ever since the musical sensation began in August 2015. Prior to “Hamilton,” Sykes appeared in Broadway musicals “Motown the Musical,” “Newsies,” “Memphis” and “The Little Mermaid.” His television credits include “Vinyl,” “Smash” and the Emmy Award-winning comedy “30 Rock.” The actor can also be seen in the upcoming Woody Allen series “Crisis in Six Scenes” on Amazon.

Playing Little Inez is Wright Joseph, an American singer, actor and dancer who made history at age 9 as the youngest actor to play Young Nala in Disney’s Broadway production of “The Lion King.” She began her career as a Fisher Price print model and started dance training with Purelements: An Evolution in Dance at age 2. In fall 2015 Wright Joseph joined the original Broadway cast of “School of Rock,” playing the role of Madison and understudied the role of Tomika, with performances recognized by the Audelco Theater Committee and earning her the 2016 Audelco Rising Star Award. Her 12-month experience with “School of Rock” also helped Wright Joseph discover her interest in mentoring young aspiring actors by facilitating musical theater workshops with A Class Act NY.

Hairspray Live! is set for Wednesday, Dec. 7 at 8 p.m. ET/PT. Check out the video below featuring the new cast members saying hi to their show mama Jennifer Hudson. 

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