Jonathan Lee Iverson is Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey’s first African-American ringmaster, still thrilling audiences as the leading voice for the popular traveling circus. Iverson was also the circus’ youngest-ever ringmaster, cementing his place in history twice.
Iverson, born in 1976, is a New York native and learned early on how to grace stages both small and large as a member of the Boys Choir of Harlem. After graduating from the University of Hartford in 1998 with a degree in Voice Performance, Iverson’s vocal talents attracted the attention of Ringling and they offered him the ringmaster position in 1999.
The high-profile position made Iverson a star and ultimately a husband. H now wife and mother of his children, Priscilla Iverson, a dancer and Brazilian native, was part of the circus’ Brazilian dance troupe and visited America. After working as colleagues in the circus and after several dates with Iverson, the pair solidified their bond in 2001 and are raising a son and daughter.
The Iversons left the circus for a few years, relocating back to Iverson’s hometown and struggling to adapt to a normal lifestyle. Iverson was eventually asked back to Ringling and has remained one of its ringmasters ever since. His wife is now a production manager for the circus. A true circus family, the Iversons take their children on the road with them.
Since Iverson’s hiring, another Black ringmaster, Andre McClain, who also met his wife in the circus, has joined the troupe and tours with Ringling Brothers as well. He is the first singing equestrian ringmaster in over a 100 years.