How Jordan Cooper Created A Career As Both A Broadway Playwright And A Hollywood Showrunner

When his daring Tony-nominated play Ain’t No Mo’ opened last year, Cooper was riding high as the youngest Black American playwright in Broadway history. But it closed after just 28 performances due to poor ticket sales—despite celebrities like Will Smith, Tyler Perry and Shonda Rhimes buying out entire performances of the show to try to save it. “I don’t want to make the art that people want today,” Cooper says of his biting comedy about a creative end to racism. “I want to make the art that they need tomorrow.” Now he’s finding his groove in Hollywood. After a chance 2018 meeting with comedian Ms. Pat (whose real name is Patricia Williams), the two teamed up to create a sitcom based on her life, The Ms. Pat Show. When network executives believed Cooper was too young to helm the series, Ms. Pat advised him to write the pilot and submit it without his name on it. The move paid off: Cooper landed the showrunner gig, and Ms. Pat earned BET one of its first major Emmy nominations for outstanding directing in 2022 and 2023. Next up? A role in Uppercut, a boxing movie starring Ving Rhames.

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