MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — A nationally renowned African American theater director, who is breaking barriers and making history in the arts, now has a book out highlighting his journey.

Tony-nominated director Sheldon Epps has directed major productions on and off Broadway and at many theaters across America. His love for theater started at 8 years old when he saw a production at Pasadena Playhouse.

Graduating from Carnegie Mellon University’s acting program, Epps started directing in a tiny off-Broadway theater and worked his way up to direct Broadway shows.

His career came full circle when he became one of the first Black artistic directors at Pasadena Playhouse.

Epps’ memoir, “My Own Directions,” shares the challenges he faced being a Black director and how Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech impacted his life.

“I obviously was inspired by that speech early on as many people in my generation were, and always kept that idea in my soul and my heart, having a dream, believing in it,” Epps said. “Believing in yourself, knowing you can accomplish anything and everything, no matter what the world might tell you, no matter what restrictions are put on you about what you can do or shouldn’t do.”

Epps conceived and directed The Duke Ellington Musical, “Play On,” which received three Tony Award nominations. He also directed the highly acclaimed musical, “Blues in the Night.” While Epps said African Americans have made great strides in the arts, there’s still a long way to go.

“Where we still can make some advancements is people in the decision-making positions, people who run the studio and run the networks can green-light a project,” Epps said. “That’s so important because those are the people who are deciding what stories we get to see and don’t see. And who’s going to be involved, what’s the nature of the case and the director and the producer. So, it’s really important to see more people in leadership positions and decision-making positions, and again, that is changing but much too slowly.”

My Own Directions” serves as an inspiration for young people who have dreams of being in the arts.

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Annette Peagler is an evening anchor at News13. Annette is from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She joined the News13 team in December 2020. Annette is an Emmy-nominated journalist and has won journalism awards in Mississippi and Tennessee. Follow Annette on Twitter and read more of her work here.