Where do you know the cast of ‘POTUS’ on Broadway from?
One nation under women, indivisible, with comedy and stilettoed Crocs for all. That’s how the pledge goes, right? It does as far as POTUS is concerned. Titled in full POTUS: Or, Behind Every Great Dumbass are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive, Selina Fillinger’s new farce sees the women in the inner circle of a problematic president scramble to do damage control for his biggest scandal yet.
And what women they are — this A-list cast could probably do a fine job taking over the free world, but for now they’re taking over the Broadway world at the Shubert Theatre. Even the three actresses making their Broadway debuts are recognizable faces, as the women of POTUS all come from hugely successful careers in TV, film, theatre, dance, comedy, music, and/or a combination of these.
In the spirit of staying informed about politics, get to know the women of the (Broadway) White House before going to see POTUS. We’ll guarantee you know at least one of these leading ladies’ past projects.
Vanessa Williams: Ugly Betty, Desperate Housewives
Those TV shows only scratch the surface of things you might know Vanessa Williams from, because this woman is a stage, screen, and music icon. Wilhelmina Slater on Ugly Betty and Renee Perry on Desperate Housewives are her best-known TV roles (she got three Emmy nominations for playing Wilhelmina), but she’s also a multi-Grammy-nominated singer with eight R&B albums to her name. Even if you think you don’t know her signature song, “Save the Best for Last,” you’ve probably heard it.
Williams has also cemented herself as a bonafide Broadway leading lady, having played the titular role in Kiss of the Spider Woman and the Witch in Into the Woods long before joining the POTUS staff. But way before any of that, she gained fame as the first Black woman to be crowned Miss America in 1983. Whether you know her as a trailblazing pageant queen, a successful singer, or an award-nominated actress, you know Vanessa Williams.
Rachel Dratch: Saturday Night Live
Rachel Dratch’s success as a comedian is anything but a downer — but she is best known for creating the character of Debbie Downer on Saturday Night Live. She was a cast member there from 1999 to 2006 and has repeatedly come back for cameos, most recently in 2021 playing Amy Klobuchar. Saturday Night Live propelled her to comedy stardom — she’d go on to appear in sitcoms like The King of Queens and 30 Rock — and her comedy shaped the sketch show as we know it today. With POTUS being her Broadway debut, maybe she’ll soon make a name as a go-to Broadway comedy actress.
Julianne Hough: Dancing With the Stars
Julianne Hough also makes her Broadway debut in POTUS, but she’s no stranger to theatre — Hough has starred as Ariel in Footloose and Sandy in Fox’s broadcast of Grease Live in 2016! But she’s best known to even casual fans for her time on Dancing With the Stars. She was only on that show for two years (from 2007-2009), but she won the Mirrorball Trophy in two out of her five seasons, which is a pretty great track record. You probably recognize her if you watch the show even now, as she was a permanent judge for a few years and frequently returns as a guest judge and performer.
Lea DeLaria: Orange Is the New Black
Lea DeLaria does it all: she’s a comedian, actress, and a jazz singer who’s put out five albums! “Comedian/actress” is how most people know DeLaria, though. Older audiences might remember her as the first openly gay comic to appear on TV, when she went on The Arsenio Hall Show in 1993. But younger audiences probably know her best as Big Boo on Orange Is the New Black, a role she held for all seven seasons.
If you’re a theatre buff, though, you might know that DeLaria’s also a musical vet. Perhaps you saw her opposite Jesse Tyler Ferguson in On the Town or as Dr. Scott/Eddie in The Rocky Horror Show? If not, catch her in POTUS on Broadway now.
Julie White: The Little Dog Laughed
Julie White has appeared on stage and screen combined dozens of times, but it’s The Little Dog Laughed, Douglas Carter Beane’s 2006 comedy play, that earned her an Obie Award and later, a coveted Tony. Her most recent Broadway appearance was in Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus opposite Broadway king Nathan Lane. But you’ve probably seen her on TV at least once; White led the show Grace Under Fire from 1993 to 1997 and has had roles in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Go On, Nurse Jackie, and lots more. She also played Elizabeth Blair Lee in the Daniel Day-Lewis film Lincoln.
Lilli Cooper: SpongeBob SquarePants, Tootsie
Lilli Cooper has been taking over the Broadway musical scene lately. She originated the role of Sandy Cheeks in the 2017 SpongeBob SquarePants musical, and just under two years later, she originated the role of Julie Nichols in the musical adaptation of Tootsie on Broadway. That role earned her a Tony nomination for Best Featured Actress. She’s continuing her Broadway takeover with POTUS, her first straight play gig.
Suzy Nakamura: Dr. Ken
Last but certainly not least in the POTUS play lineup is Suzy Nakamura, an actress and comedian with a 25-year-plus career under her belt. She held the leading role of Allison Park on the sitcom Dr. Ken opposite Ken Jeong, and she’s also had recurring roles on the Netflix series Dead to Me, the ABC sitcom The Goldbergs, and the NBC sitcom Go On (the same one White acted in!). She’s also acted in the NBC drama The West Wing, so it’s fitting that her Broadway debut is in a show that combines political drama and uproarious comedy.