Adrianna Hicks is turning up the heat on Broadway. She’s back on stage in the new musical Some Like It Hot after a successful run as Queen Catherine of Aragon in Six the Musical (giving the wives of King Henry VIII much-deserved biographical due). Based on the 1959 hit movie, Hicks may have some big shoes to fill in the stage version of Some Like it Hot, as the role was played by Marilyn Monroe in the film. However, in this new incarnation, Hicks is heading a diverse production that speaks to female and LGBTQ+ empowerment. She's also a role model for young brown-skinned girls who can watch her and imagine themselves in roles that expand beyond a Black-oriented storyline.

EBONY spoke with Hicks about bringing her own authenticity to a character originated by Marilyn Monroe and her admiration for Black iconic actresses of yesteryear and today who are her role models.

EBONY: What drew you to this role?

Adrianna Hicks: Three years ago, I was auditioning for Dreamgirls in the hopes of bringing that show back to Broadway for a revival. The creative team then reached out and said they wanted to put me in another project I’d be perfect for. I didn't know anything about Some Like It Hot and that's what drew me to it. I knew of the movie, but I’d never seen it before, so I had to do research and learned it was one of the movies that really helped put Marilyn Monroe on the map.

Was it always the vision to have a Black woman bring the character back to life?

Yes! That was very intriguing and an amazing opportunity to have writers create songs around me and do something completely original even though it's taking the blueprint of the movie. They had a few foundational songs, but they were trying to develop Sugar’s character more, so some songs were pretty much manufactured around my voice. They were able to pull from other legends in the industry like Dorothy Dandridge, Lena Horne and Josephine Baker, who I truly admire.

Some Like It Hot is an iconic Marilyn Monroe movie. What of her essence did you want to bring to the role?

Marilyn was a woman of sensuality and softness that is so captivating. I love that essence of Marilyn. Sugar also carries those characteristics of being a dreamer and a genuine person. And Marilyn was a fashion icon. Our designer, Gregg Barnes, definitely formulated costumes that have Marilyn’s fingerprint.

Adrianna Hicks and cast of Some Like It Hot. Image: Matthew Murphy.

What makes this character distinctively your own?

I want to say all of me, and that's not an understatement. Sugar and my core values are very similar when it comes to wanting to honor and respect people in a heartfelt manner. I try to do that every single night, and I hope that it's reading that way.

Why is it so important to have more Black female representation and lead roles in shows that aren't necessarily Black-oriented storylines?

Growing up, I would watch a lot of movies, but they didn't have a lot of brown faces, and I was curious about that. It wasn't until I did The Color Purple on Broadway that I realized people need more representation. At the University of Oklahoma, where I studied musical theater, I used to think, I can only be an Audra McDonald or a Lillias White. They are wonderful Black trailblazers in the industry, but they are totally opposite ends of the spectrum. There are so many talented Black and Black trans women who can play any role, including them. We need that variety of talent on display.

Which is being accomplished with diverse production.

Absolutely. I think Sugar has a multitude of colors to her and that's what we need the industry to see. We're not women that you can compartmentalize into two or three character choices, we are multifaceted. I just imagine a little Black girl watching me thinking, “I can; I can do that.” To know that I am creating another piece in the spectrum of the musical theater canon that gives more Black women the opportunity to express themselves in the multiple colors that we are is truly amazing.

Some Like It Hot now playing at the Shubert Theatre in New York City.