June 24, 2024

Ron Simons Dies At 63: From Microsoft Exec To Award-Winning Broadway Producer

Ron Simons

Ron Simons, a tech executive turned Tony award-winning Broadway producer, died at the age of 63.

Simons left his job as an executive at Microsoft to pursue his dream of acting, later becoming one of the few Black theatrical producers on Broadway.

“It is with heavy hearts that we share the unexpected passing of our beloved, blessed, and highly favored friend, Ronald Keith Simons,” Simon’s production company, Simonsays Entertainment, wrote on Instagram. “Funeral details will be forthcoming.”

Simons died on June 12, 2024. A spokesman declined to say where he died or the cause of death.

Remembering Ron Simons – From Tech To Theater

Simons graduated from Columbia College in 1982 with a degree in English and Information Systems.

Despite always wanting to act and applying to the Yale School of Drama, Simons knew that the profession was risky, and his family needed his financial help, according to The New York Times.

After three years working as a software engineer at Hewlett-Packard, he moved to IntelliCorp as an applications project manager and then to Microsoft as a product manager in 1989. 

At 39, Simons left Microsoft to pursue acting, performing with notable theaters like the Cc and Seattle Repertory Theatre.

An award-winning theater producer

Dissatisfied with his acting roles, Simons turned to producing in 2009. 

He won his first Tony in 2012 for “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess” and continued to win three more for productions like “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” and “Jitney.”

“Jitney” was part of Simon’s mission to produce projects about underrepresented people and communities and is one of 10 plays in his American Century Cycle about the African American experience in the 20th century.

“I think it’s really, really, really, really key that we uphold and promote and give voice to these diverse voices who are under siege right now and those who might not be directly under siege but who are ignored by mainstream entertainment and arts organizations,” Simons said in an interview with WAMC-FM in Albany, NY in 2017.

Simons’ mission was to highlight underrepresented voices, producing impactful works such as “Thoughts of a Colored Man” and “For Colored Girls.”

Both shows made important marks on Broadway, with For Colored Girls being the first production to be written, directed, starred in, and led and produced by Black artists.

Feature Image Credit: National World

Sara Keenan

Tech Reporter at POCIT. Following her master's degree in journalism, Sara cultivated a deep passion for writing and driving positive change for Black and Brown individuals across all areas of life. This passion expanded to include the experiences of Black and Brown people in tech thanks to her internship experience as an editorial assistant at a tech startup.