Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and immigration rights activist Jose Antonio Vargas is adding his first Broadway producer credit to his resume. Vargas will join the team led by Broadway veterans Diana DiMenna, Aaron Glick and Matt Ross to produce Heidi Schreck’s critically-acclaimed play What The Constitution Means To Me.
The news comes after the producers announced the Clubbed Thumb, True Love and New York Theatre Workshop production would be moving from Off-Broadway to Broadway for a 12-week limited engagement this spring with Oliver Butler directing. Vargas tweeted his involvement as producer Thursday morning saying, “THRILLED and HONORED to join the producing team of @constitutionbwy—written and performed by the glorious Heidi Schreck (@hbrikin) and directed by the awesome @oliverbutler!”
Schreck also took to Twitter to announce the news. “The brilliant Jose Antonio Vargas has joined the producing team of @constitutionbwy!” she wrote. “Ecstatic to be working with this visionary writer and activist.”
“What the Constitution Means to Me is a landmark feat of storytelling, a deeply personal work that sets the stage for what’s possible in the American theatre,” Vargas tells Deadline. A self-proclaimed “theatre nerd”, Vargas was was once a member of the Tony Awards Nominating Committee.
In Schreck’s play, the Obie Award winner resurrects her 15-year-old self in order to trace the profound relationship between four generations of women in her own family and the founding document that dictated their rights and citizenship. The play is in line with Vargas’s own narrative, a former journalist for the Washington Post who publicly “came out” as an undocumented immigrant in an article he wrote for the New York Times in 2011. Since then, he has become a staunch advocate for immigration rights.
In 2013, he directed the documentary film Documented for CNN Films, which documented his journey to America from the Philippines. In 2018, he released his memoir, Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen, which goes into further detail about his emotional journey as an immigrant and gives readers insight to the country’s problematic citizenship process. It was around the time of publication that he saw the Off Broadway run of What the Constitution Means to Me at the New York Theatre Workshop.
While at the Washington Post, Vargas was part of the team that won the Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Reporting in 2008 for coverage of the Virginia Tech shooting. He also helmed the MTV special White People which explored white privilege in the country.
Vargas is also the founder of Define American, the leading immigration-centric organization in Hollywood. They have worked with several industry executives, showrunners and writers to help with a more realistic portrayal of immigrant characters and immigration-related storylines. Define America was recently named one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies of 2019 in the Film & TV category alongside entertainment heavyweights like Netflix, Warner Bros. and Participant Media.