Coleman Offers Sound Advice for Women on Broadway

Liz Coleman is a "sound sister," very much in tune with her professional and personal journey.

As one of about ten women working as a sound engineer on Broadway, she and her fellow female sound artists often gather for an event they call "Sound Sister Sunday," to network and share their experiences working in the male-dominated discipline.

"I personally feel very strongly and I do what I can to encourage other women coming up," said Coleman. "If you know women who want to do what I do, I will happily sit down and grab a cup of coffee and talk to them, because I think it is important that we encourage women and minorities to do this work."

"Carnegie Mellon gave me the foundations of being a creative thinker and a problem-solver."

Coleman’s first Broadway production as an A1, or sound mixer, was on fellow alumna Leigh Silverman’s production of "Violet" in 2014. Her path to Broadway was a bit circuitous.

When she arrived at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Drama , she thought she was going to be a Broadway scenic designer.

"Carnegie Mellon gave me the foundations of being a creative thinker, and a problem-solver, and taught me so many things about the industry that when I took that sound design class and started to realize it was a better fit, it was pretty easy for me to change course," Coleman explained.

After graduating in 2004, she moved to New York without a job, but was able, through connections, to pick up some small design gigs, as well as operating the soundboard for various productions. Two years later, she was offered two opportunities at the same time: one as a sound designer, and the other as a mixer. When she chose the mixing job on the 2006 Off Broadway production of "Mimi LeDuck" starring Eartha Kitt, she knew she was on the right path.

Coleman recently finished her work as the audio engineer for the Broadway run of the Tony Award-winning musical, "The Band’s Visit," her fourth Broadway musical.

Her advice for students embarking on a career in the theater?

"Find your advocates. Find the people who believe in you," Coleman advises. "There will be plenty of folks who will remind you why you’re not good enough. Find the people who remind you why you got into this business and who will tell you ’you’ve got this.’"

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