The National Black Theater Festival is back in Winston-Salem

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WINSTON-SALEM, NC (WGHP) — The National Black Theater Festival is back!

On Monday, the purple carpet rolled out for one of the biggest theater festivals.

There was standing room only in the lobby of the Marriott on North Cherry Street in downtown Winston-Salem.

People have traveled hundreds of miles to be there.

The purple and black could be seen from miles away as people flocked to the main lobby of the Marriott hotel to kick off the festival.

“I am here for the first time at the festival. Very, very excited to be here,” said Daydra Smith.

Smith and his family traveled from South Florida to see what it was all about.

“This whole experience turned me around and made me want to go create and one day be one of those influenced people and come back and repay and excite artists like me who come into the ground,” Smith said.

Big names were there like award-winning actress, writer and producer Regina Taylor, actress Lisa Arrindel and “The Chi” actress Tyla Abercrumbie.

This festival is now in its 17th year and will have 75 vendors.

Music, a film festival, poetry for teens, workshops, job opportunities for actors and directors, and theater were all showcased with more than 100 performances at multiple Winston-Salem venues.

People who attended say the festival comes at the perfect time to honor television pioneer Nichelle Nichols

She is best known for her role in Star Trek, and she is also among the first black women to have a starring role in a television series.

She died Saturday at the age of 89.

“I’m always proud of the shoulders I’ve stood on and the doors that have opened for me. We wouldn’t be artists if those people hadn’t opened those doors and taken on some of the injustices,” Abercrumbie said.

“I struggle in this area today, and I can’t imagine what she had to go through to break into this career,” Smith said. “Such a strong and amazing woman to take on this burden and open the doors for the rest.”

Monday was just the start of a week’s activities.

The evening ended with a star-studded gala at the Benton Convention Center.

For a list of scheduled activities, you can download the National Black Theater Festival app.

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