CHICAGO (WLS) -- Vanessa Williams is in Chicago with the rousing new musical "A Wonderful World," not as a performer but as a producer.
The musical is inspired by the life and music of Louis Armstrong.
"It's wonderful because I get a chance to use many different skill sets, as an audience member, am I entertained, as an actor, does that make sense, so I can look at it from a total perspective," Williams said of her role as producer.
James Monroe Inglehart plays Satchmo, and appreciated having a performer in charge.
"This isn't a producer who hasn't been on stage, who doesn't know what it's like to be on the other side, who can't sit in the audience and say, that doesn't sound right or look right. She's an entertainer," he said.
"I always admired him and grew up with all of his music and legacy," Williams said of Armstrong. "We kind of do get deep in our show, we talk about lynching, we talk about the civil rights movement, we talk about being a Black man and making sure that there's integrity and fighting for your individuality, it's not just here's another hit song, let's get entertained, here's some tap numbers, it all comes out of his truth and his history."
Williams helped create the group Black Theatre United, and has been very vocal about making Broadway and the theater world more inclusive and diverse.
"It's important to be at the table, to be in the room where it happens, make those decision and we've seen that's definitely happened," she said. "Diversity is a fact, inclusion is a choice, so make sure people make those choices."