Broadway has lost one of its own. Royana Black, known for her roles in ‘Brighton Beach Memoirs’ and on the CBS sitcom ‘Raising Miranda,’ passed away due to myeloid leukemia. Here’s what you need to know.
Royana Black Hubbell, who began her Broadway career when she was just 10-years-old, died “very suddenly” on July 14 due to “acute myeloid leukemia,” according to her family, who announced her death via a GoFundMe page set up for her memorial. The actress, married to fellow actor John Paul “JP” Hubbell, was described as having an “incredible energy” and that her “spirit will be a part of our lives forever. [H]er friends and family want to remember her and assist her husband, JP, at this most difficult time.”
Two weeks after her tragic death, the GoFundMe raised over $ 53k, more than twice its initial $ 25k goal. “We are equal parts humbled and shocked at the outpouring of generosity into this memorial fund. JP continues with the struggle of getting a handle on the everyday things that must be done in the midst of such soul wracking grief,” the family said. “Words cannot express the gratitude we feel to each and every person who continues to so graciously respond to this campaign and share it with others to help JP with the end of life costs, and future expenses.” As the family, friends, and fans of Royana continue to mourn, here’s what you need to know.
1. Royana began acting when she was young. Born in Poughkeepsie, New York, she was cast as a replacement in a 1983 Broadway production of Brighton Beach Memoirs. In the Neil Simon play, Royana portrayed Laurie, the cousin of the production’s main character, Eugene – which was originated by Matthew Broderick. This early success would launch her career, but she made time for school. She took four years away from acting to complete her B.A. in Victorian Literature from Yale University, according to IMDB.
2. Her biggest “break” came in 1998. At age 15, Royana starred opposite Robert Klein in a pilot for Father’s Day for ABC. She also landed a few roles in TV movies, like 1986’s Comedy Factor, and Adam: His Song Continues, in 1986. In 1988, she landed the title role in Raising Miranda. “After his wife Bonnie leaves, Donald Marshack struggles to raise their teenaged daughter, Miranda,” according to the show’s IMDB page. Only nine episodes were produced, but the show was reportedly pulled due to poor ratings, leaving two episodes unaired. This show would be just a blip in the vast television landscape, if not for one fact: Raising Miranda gave Bryan Cranston his first regular primetime television role. He portrayed “Uncle Russell,” and two decades later, he would become iconic, thanks to his role on Breaking Bad.
She appeared on other TV shows and films throughout the years. After Raising Miranda’s cancellation, Royana continued to appear on a variety of television shows. She was on an episode of The Cosby Show, Touched By An Angel, Touching Evil, and Medium. She appeared in films like Fixed, Happy Is Not Hard To Be, A Beautiful Life, and Excess Baggage. “Royana was a friend and a joy to know,” novelist Cecil Castellucci tweeted after Royana’s death. “She also was in the little feature I film I made. So sad she’s gone.”
Royana continued to work in the theatre. Upon graduating from Yale, IMDB reports Royana relocated to New York City and “founded her first non-profit theatre company, producing three shows in less than two years.” She returned this more administrative and executive role later in life. While living in California, Royana worked as the Artistic Director and Chair of the Alliance Repertory Company in Los Angeles.
5. She’s survived by her husband. Royana married John Paul Hubbell in 2009. He’s best known for playing paramedic Lars Audia on three seasons of ER. He has also appeared on NCIS, Shameless, and American Crime. In addition to her husband, Royana is survived by her mother, Gloria Black, and brother Robert J. Pereira Black.