Kyle Jean-Baptiste, First Black Actor To Play Lead In 'Les Miz' On Broadway, Dies At 21

The actor was scheduled to join the cast of "The Color Purple" Sept. 6.
Credit: Laura Marie Duncan

Kyle Jean-Baptiste, the youngest actor -- and the first black actor -- to play the lead role in a Broadway production of "Les Miserables,” died after a tragic fall from his mother’s fire escape Friday. He was 21.

Broadway World confirmed the news of his death, publishing a statement from Jean-Baptiste's company that expressed condolences to his family.

"The entire LES MISERABLES 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,” the statement says. “We send our deepest condolences to his family and ask that you respect their privacy in this unimaginably difficult time."

The actor made his debut on Broadway this summer in the iconic role of Jean Valjean, the protagonist in "Les Miz," the longest running musical in the world. Thursday was his final show.

“Today is my last performance as Valjean on Broadway,” he wrote on Instagram beneath a before-and-after picture of him in costume. “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.”

Jean-Baptiste appeared on HuffPost Live in July to discuss his passion for acting and how it felt to make history as the first black actor to take on the role of Valjean on Broadway.

"I had always wanted to play Valjean when I was younger, but never thought it possible on Broadway because I'm black," he said. "Now that I've done the role, I've realized how this news can inspire."

Jean-Baptiste recently graduated from Baldwin Wallace University. He also attended the prestigious Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts in New York.

Our thoughts and condolences go out to his family and friends.

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