Happy Women’s History Month, theatremakers! Women’s influence, expertise, perspectives, and power can be felt in just about every industry in the world these days. But one industry that has empowered women to lead and thrive for centuries is our own

Today, On The Stage shines a spotlight on just a few of the thousands of female theatre directors who are currently shaking up – and thus, shaping – the global theatre scene. 

Women Directors to Watch 

Lileana Blain-Cruz 

A native of Miami, Lileana Blain-Cruz splits her time between her hometown and New York City.

One look at her pedigree, and you’ll see why she’s made such an impression in the world of theatre: She received her bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and her Master of Fine Arts in directing from the Yale School of Drama. There, she won the Julian Milton Kaufman Memorial Prize and the Pierre-Andre Salim Prize for her leadership and directing. 

Other awards won by Blain-Cruz are vast and include the Drama League’s 2022 Founders Award for Excellence in Directing, being named the 2021 Doris Duke Artist and the 2020 Lincoln Center Emerging Artist, and being selected as a 2018 United States Artists Fellow. 

Currently, the resident director of Lincoln Center Theater, Blain-Cruz’s recent projects include 

The Skin of Our Teeth (Lincoln Center, Tony nomination); Stranger Love (LA Philharmonic); Create Dangerously (Miami New Drama); The Listeners (Opera Norway); and White Girl in Danger (Second Stage / Vineyard Theatre).

In a 2020 interview with Playbill, Blain-Cruz says she wanted to be a director because she “loved being able to synthesize all of the art forms into an event that could spark dialogue, that could make people feel more alive and more aware of each other.” 

Krysta Hibbard

Director and coordinator Krysta Hibbard is focused primarily in theatre, but has also ventured into TV and film in recent years. A self-proclaimed ‘artist wrangler,’ Hibbard prides herself on her ability to “combine creative sensibility with organizational structure to help bridge the gap between the artistic and technical worlds,” according to her website. 

Hibbard has been heavily involved in the industry for decades. She serves as a board member for THEE Inc, a bi-coastal, non-hierarchical ensemble of theatre and film artists. She also served as the COO of Silver Towers Productions and the Associate Producer for Throughline Artists, a non-profit organization.

Previous credits range from shows like The Wanderer, VIVA Broadway!, Arrabal, For Hope, and Seafarer. Additionally, Hibbard was a segment producer and choreography coordinator at the 2022 and 2023 Tony Awards. 

Hibbard is passionate about helping young minds develop. In an interview with Playbill, Hibbard says: “I’ve always been drawn toward service and social advancement, even when I was working with college students as they formed their opinions for the first time outside their parents’ homes. I see the same responsibility and opportunity for impact through the arts as I experienced as a higher education professional. As artists, we have a unique platform to influence people. We get to introduce them to new cultures, different experiences, and people they may not encounter in their everyday lives. That exposure can create a rare moment of self-exploration that opens conversations and connections that could lead to new enlightenment.” 

Candis C. Jones

Born in Connecticut and raised in Washington, D.C., Candis C. Jones graduated from the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, where she made her first foray into directing. Afterward, she received her bachelor’s degree from New York University in the same subject matter. 

Jones began her professional career by founding Theater Yin Yin, a theatre collective where she devised material, self-produced, and curated showcases for new artists to collaborate. 

According to her website, Jones is “obsessed with heightened material that evocatively unpacks the social-political tragedies of our nation.” She enjoys developing new plays, abstract musicals, adaptations, African American classics, and poetic texts. Above all else, she committed to leading a creative environment where “actors and collaborators build radical-joyous communities and partnerships.” 

Recent stage productions directed by Jones include Cullud Wattah, Shadow/Land, School Girls, and Detroit 67’

In an interview with Playbill, Jones says the guiding principle in her directing style is collaboration. “I believe there’s a divine listening in casting and curating a creative team for a project. From there, I trust that with my gentle shaping and visioning, everyone’s ideas and craft will generate a theatrical happening that is one in a million. That is collaboration. I hope you can feel the spirit and pulse of that collaboration when you’re watching something I’ve directed.” 

Young Jean Lee 

Born in South Korea, director Young Jean Lee moved to the U.S. when she was two years old. After growing up in Washington state, Lee went to UC Berkeley, where she graduated summa cum laude. She later moved to New York and received her Master in Fine Arts from Mac Wellman’s playwriting program at Brooklyn College. 

Afterward, Lee became the creative director for Young Jean Lee’s Theater Company, a not-for-profit theatre company dedicated to producing her work; there, she wrote and directed ten shows and toured them in cities around the world. During this time, she was called “the most adventurous downtown playwright of her generation” by Charles Isherwood in The New York Times. After directing Straight White Men at the Hayes Theater, Lee became the first Asian American woman to have a play produced on Broadway.

A true collaborator, Lee says she feels proudest of the people she can get to work together. 

“I don’t feel proud of productions so much as I feel proud of collaborators,” she told Playbill. “Sometimes when I’m in the middle of a really great rehearsal or meeting, I’ll start gloating to myself over having gotten such talented people in one room. The proudest moment for me usually comes when the teams are finalized.” 

Arpita Mukherjee

Award-winning, New York-based director and writer Arpita Mukherjee has a slew of accolades under her belt. She directed Running, a short film written by and starring Danny Pudi, which won Best Short Film at the Chicago South Asian Film Festival. She won the Filmfare Award for the screenplay for the Disney+ Hotstar film Gulmohar with director Rahul Chittella. Additionally, she has developed projects for WIIP, AMC, Sony, and Netflix. 

Outside film and television, Mukherjee made her Broadway debut as the resident director of The Kite Runner. Other theatre projects include Bollywood Kitchen by Sri Rao (Geffen Playhouse), House of Joy by Madhuri Shekar (San Diego Rep), and Eh Dah: Questions for my Father by Aya Aziz (Next Door @ New York Theatre Workshop). Mukherjee has also worked at the Public Theater, WP Theater, Roundabout Theatre, New York Theatre Workshop, and O’Neill Theater Center.

Alongside directing, Mukherjee is also the co-book writer of Monsoon Wedding, The Musical, which had its NYC premiere at St. Ann’s Warehouse. 

On her directing style, Mukherjee says that “the process is as important as the product. I’ve worked on enough shows to know that it’s impossible to know if you have created something ‘good.’ Excellence as a product is inherently not in our hands, but the process is something directors can create,” she told Playbill

Organizations to Support

Alliance of Women Directors

Alliance of Women Directors was founded in 1997 by alumni of the American Film Institute’s Directing Workshop for Women as a community of peers to share information and support one another’s career advancement.


Women in Film

Founded in 1973 as Women In Film Los Angeles, WIF advocates for and advances the careers of women working in the screen industries—in front of and behind the camera, across all levels of experience—to achieve parity and transform culture.



WomenArts is dedicated to increasing the visibility of women artists in all art forms by sharing news and information about trailblazing women artists and gender parity activists all year long through the WomenArts Blog and Facebook page. Through blogs, e-newsletters, and social media, WomenArts celebrates women’s creativity in all its forms. The organization believes in the power of women artists to create, connect, and change the world.


Women in Arts & Media Coalition

The Women in the Arts and Media Coalition is a centralized resource for professional women in the performing arts and media industries. Through its member organizations, the Women in the Arts & Media Coalition represents more than 80,000 women and men in the arts and media. 


Women’s Theatre Project

WP THEATER, now in its 46th Season, is the nation’s oldest and largest theatre company dedicated to developing, producing, and promoting the work of women at every stage of their careers.


Girl Be Heard

Girl Be Heard builds leaders, change-makers, and activists through developing, amplifying, and celebrating the voices of girls and young women through socially conscious theatre-making, storytelling, and performance.


Here at On The Stage, we support women directors, writers, producers, actors, and crew members today and every day! Happy Women’s History Month! 

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