Photo: Black Nativity: A Gospel Christmas Musical Experience Photo: courtesy of Dominion Entertainment
Photo: Director Robert John Connor (Photo: courtesy of Dominion Arts)

In entertainment, there are ûber talented people who are known as triple threats and then there’s veteran award-winning director,  stage actor, writer, singer and producer Robert John Connor (GreenleafA Different World, The Cosby ShowGlory). Connor is a jack of all trades and master of many. He is as well-known and respected in television and film as he is on Broadway where he has been putting in work for nearly four decades.

The CEO/Artistic Director for Dominion Entertainment Group and founder of Dominion Arts Foundation, Inc. has worked closely with a who’s who of entertainers including Tony Award-winner Joaquina Kalukango (Paradise SquareLovecraft CountryOne Night in MiamiWhen They See UsInstinctRobin Roberts Presents: Mahalia), Tony Hightower (Money Train, If Loving You Is Wrong, Madea Gets a Job,The Haves and the Have Nots) and Enoch Armando King (TillThe Last Days of Ptolemy GreyDrumlineMadea’s Family Reunion just to name a few.

A Morehouse alum, Connor began honing his craft in the iconic Atlanta University Center by studying film, music, television and theater. He continued his studies earning a Master of Theater-Dramatic Media from the University of Georgia. While many applaud Atlanta’s $10 billion film and television industry, scant attention is given to those who laid the groundwork for a thriving industry to emerge. Robert John Connor is one of many who paved the way so an incredible industry could emerge.

Connor has impacted the artistic careers of over 21,000 youth through his Dominion Arts Foundation, a nonprofit organization he founded to provide critical low-cost/no-cost training and mentorship opportunities to at-risk, aspiring youth and young adults who wish to secure respectable careers in the arts and entertainment industries, but struggle to be seen, heard, or hired.

Known for producing some of Atlanta’s most memorable theatrical productions, Dominion Entertainment focuses on the development and production of high-quality arts and entertainment around the world, placing a heavy emphasis on diversity in subject matter. In this vein, Dominion has produced shows such as Mahalia: A Gospel Musical, Jar the Floor, and A Lesson Before Dying and Black Nativity: A Gospel Christmas Musical Experience. 

Connor has ushered 1500 youth through his stage productions through the Dominion Arts Foundation, and; almost 8,000 high school students during his era at the award-winning Tri-Cities High School Visual and Performing Arts Magnet Program, home to many of Atlanta’s most famous and iconic talents like Andre 3000, Big Boi, Kandi Burruss and Kenan Thompson. Connor also taught at the Las Vegas Academy of the Arts and the Fine Arts Magnet Education program at New Manchester High School, which produced renowned performers Ne-Yo and Rutina Wesley (Queen Sugar). He currently serves as Director at the  Cobb County Center for Excellence in the Performing Arts. Through this role, he has worked with a variety of schools including Pebblebrook High School which produced Lil Yachty and Carlos Valdes,

A celebrated creative, Connor’s annual production of Black Nativity: A Gospel Christmas Musical Experience is an Atlanta treasure and a must-see event every year. Suffice it to say, wherever Robert John Connor lends his talents, excellence follows.

The Burton Wire got a chance to chat with Connor about his illustrious career and Black Nativity: A Gospel Christmas Musical Experience.

TBW: What made you pursue a career in theater?

RJC: When I was 13, I was cast in a middle school production of Bye Bye Birdie and that experience changed my life.  There was something about that experience that let me know that theatre was my sacred space.  As a kid I loved to act and sing.

TBW: Were your family and friends supportive of your career choice? Why or why not?

RJC: Yes and no. I grew up in Pittsburgh so football was/is big.  I was always respected as the kid in the neighborhood who was into the Arts and my mother supported me in it 100%.  My dad, I don’t think knew how in the beginning.  I was the only person in my family who pursued the Arts.  Over the years I think my father came to the realization that this was to be my life’s work and supported me 1000%.

TBW:  Your decades-long career has been exemplary. What do you consider to be your most significant accomplishment and why?

RJC: It has nothing to do with my career.  Being a dad to my daughter Ryan is singlehandedly my greatest accomplishment. Cultivating young artists to become their best selves comes in a close second.

TBW:  What is your favorite Broadway show (as a fan)?

RJC: I think Hamilton was well done, but I also liked War Horse a great deal.  My taste is very eclectic.

TBW:   I know that your annual holiday production of Black Nativity (Atlanta) is coming up.  What’s the importance of this play in today’s world and why should theatre enjoyers encourage a friend or other loved one to go and see it?

RJC: For me I just think people need catharsis, especially during times like this. Black Nativity (Atlanta) is an experience that is hard to describe.  It’s theatre, its worship, its celebration, it’s dance.  Most importantly, it is a show that speaks to all ages and backgrounds.  It’s a story of hope and joy. The caliber of talent in the show is unmatched.

Black Nativity: A Gospel Christmas Musical Experience is running at the Ferst Center for the Arts December 7-17, 2023. Tickets can be purchased at

This article was written by Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D., founder & editor-in-chief of The Burton Wire. Follow Nsenga on social media @Ntellectual.

Follow the Burton Wire @TheBurtonWireNews or @TheBurtonWire on IG.

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