Hewlett, James(fl. 1821–31) stage actor; birthplace unknown. A free African-American, he was a tailor by trade who in 1821 became a principal actor in William Henry Brown's newly formed African Theatre in New York City. He starred as Richard III, Othello, and as the Carib chieftain King Shotoway in Brown's own drama on the revolt on St. Vincent. The African Theatre soon folded, and Hewlett began to give one-man performances in which he imitated leading actors of the day in their celebrated roles. He enlivened his recitations by singing songs accompanied by his wife on the piano. He is known to have performed in New York City and Pennsylvania and may have also performed in London, England.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.