Cultural Diversity Roster



Darryl Van Leer

Award-winning Actor and Performer who produces, and stars in one-man shows including Power on Earth, Roadhouse Lounge, and more

Award-winning actor Darryl Van Leer has been captivating audiences for nearly two decades with his one-man dramatizations that he writes, directs and produces. Recently, Van Leer co-stared in the feature film Deadline starring Eric Roberts, which opened nationwide in theaters in 2012. Inspired by a true story, Deadline is adapted from Mark Ethridge’s novel Grievances.…

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Award-winning actor Darryl Van Leer has been captivating audiences for nearly two decades with his one-man dramatizations that he writes, directs and produces. Recently, Van Leer co-stared in the feature film Deadline starring Eric Roberts, which opened nationwide in theaters in 2012.

Inspired by a true story, Deadline is adapted from Mark Ethridge’s novel Grievances. Van Leer’s most recent stage play entitled Rubycat Lawson’s Roadhouse Lounge was ten years in the making.

A trained musician, Van Leer started his musical career at age 11. Through live music, acting and singing, he showcases his full range of talent as he illuminates the need for music in today’s society. Ray Charles, Elton John, Little Richard and more are highlighted in this feel good production. Roadhouse is now being performed at theaters and performing art centers throughout the U.S.

In his original composition Power on Earth, Van Leer portrays some of the greatest legends and leaders of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The dramatization showcases Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Frederick Douglass, Malcolm X and more. Termed “emotionally riveting, masterful, and rousing” by Daily Variety, Power on Earth is a tour-de-force performance in which Van Leer creates living history.

As a full time actor, Van Leer has shared the screen with such actors as James Earl Jones, Samuel Jackson, Gregory Harrison, Rue McClanahan and Beau Bridges. Most recently, Van Leer starred in TLC’s reality series The Messengers.

He was one of the four finalists in the series that was devoted to finding America’s next great inspirational speaker. He starred in the role of a tough-love father in the Nickelodeon movie, First Time, the story of Jackie Robinson.

He also played the father in Aaron Spelling’s weekly series Safe Harbor, co-starring with Gregory Harrison. Other television series in which Van Leer has co-starred in include One Tree Hill and Sheena. Additionally, Van Leer has been featured in two HBO original movies, The Second Civil War and Up Against the Wall, as well as Fox’s Steel Chariots and NBC’s original movie, Witness to the Execution.

Darryl Van Leer, born in Madisonville, KY is a graduate of Western Kentucky University with a bachelor’s degree in Graphic Communications.

He has performed at over 300 Universities in America and has been honored with awards from NACA, Campus Activities Today and received a nomination for “Best Performance” from Hollywood’s NAACP Image Awards.

Van Leer has also been recognized for his accomplishments as a Notable Kentuckian.

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The Norm of Greatness: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This stunning, foot-stomping musical tale of redemption follows the story of Matthew Porter, proprietor of the once famous Blues and Rock & Roll juke joint. The Roadhouse has been deteriorating for more than a decade, and Matthew has been declining along with it. When he receives a letter from the government claiming eminent domain for a new interstate highway, Matthew reaches the depths of despair and begins to mourn the loss of a historic landmark. Hope walks in – in the form of New York Times reporter Dawson Edwards, who has come to write an article on famous juke joints in the South.  Matthew transports the reporter and the audience back in time to when the Roadhouse was booming, and transforms into the most electrifying performers of all time: Ray Charles, Little Richard, Elton John, Sam Cooke, Muddy Waters, Jelly Roll Morton, Big Joe Turner, Lionel Richie, and Jerry Lee Lewis. Together, Matthew and Dawson launch a plan to save the Roadhouse by earning the building a place on the National Register of Historic Places. Van Leer, a trained musician, brings to stage live music. With 21 on stage costume changes and 115 different sound effects, the audience will laugh, sing, and be inspired in this one-hour and thirty-five minute feel-good production.

MANDELA: LET FREEDOM REIGN is the one man play on the life President Nelson Mandela. This electrifying performance opens with dimly lit stage as vocal narration tells the early life of Mandela leading up to his equal rights struggle against apartheid. With grand court room windows as the backdrop, Van Leer as Mandela delivers his “I Am Prepared to Die” statement from the dock at the Rivonia Supreme Court trial prior to being sentenced to life in prison. Next, the audience travels to Robben Island Penitentiary. With a single light overhead and sitting in a cold jail cell, Nelson tells of his 27 years in prison. This scene is entitled “The Dark Years.” The outcry opposing apartheid reaches the international community. The setting is now London , United Kingdom, where “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,” an enduring influence to Mandela, speaks on the atrocities of apartheid and Mandela’s unjust imprisonment at Robben Island . With great jubilation enshrined with music, the audience witnesses Mandela’s victorious release from prison. The performance” Let Freedom Reign” closes triumphantly as The Republic of South Africa’s first democratically elected Black President, Nelson Mandela, delivers his world renowned “Inaugural Address.” Running time, 1 hour with Q&A

Van Leer’s signature, high-energy tour-de-force performance dramatizes key moments and events in the lives of eight prominent African-Americans of the 19th and 20th centuries.  Led by the angelic narrator Gabriel, the audience is taken on a magical tour and comes face to face with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Thurgood Marshall, Marcus Garvey, Frederick Douglass, Nat Turner, and blues greats Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson. With 75 different sound effects, 14 different characters, and eight on-stage costume changes, the audience is catapulted through time in this heart-wrenching testament to man’s courage and determination. Power on Earth is one hour and twenty minutes with no intermission.

This stirring performance, based on the essential writings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., opens with a narration describing the tribulations of the Montgomery Bus boycott. King’s testimony of these events is given in his passionate sermon “Early Days.” Next, the audience is transported to the year 1963, to witness King’s historical speech “I Have A Dream.” The Norm of Greatness also includes “The Drum Major Instinct,” “The Eulogy,” and “I See the Promised Land. This is a forty five minute performance plus a fifteen minute Q&A.

In this powerful, one-hour, two-act play based on The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Van Leer brings to stage a young scrapping Douglass, who gives an account of the most gut-wrenching events of his life. The audience relives moments with Douglass and his nurturing mother and grandmother, his life with the notorious slave master Edward Covey, as well as his thrilling and suspenseful train ride to freedom. This is a one hour play with no intermission.

Great Innovators  
Great innovators and inventors, such as George Washington Carver, Dr. Charles Drew, and Garrett Morgan are the highlight of this entertaining and thought-provoking performance. Matthew, a magical and insightful old man tries to encourage a nine-year old, disillusioned boy who feels he has no positive role models or leaders to admire. Through witty and comical storytelling, Matthew enlightens the boy of America’s great innovators.  In a twinkling of an eye, the boy’s hopeless outlook is reversed as he is transported to the past to witness George Washington Carver at work at his Alabama Experiment Station. As a result the boy realizes that he does have much to be proud of.   Great Innovators is a one hour play with no intermission.


Darryl Van Leer, Nelson Mandela

Darryl Van Leer (MLK)


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