History-Making Les Mis Lead Dies at 21 Kyle Jean-Baptiste was youngest, first black actor to play Jean Valjean By Polly Davis Doig, Newser Staff Posted Aug 30, 2015 10:11 AM CDT 10 comments Comments Kyle Jean-Baptiste (Facebook) (Newser) – Kyle Jean-Baptiste, the actor who made history as the youngest and the first African American to play Jean Valjean in Les Misérables on Broadway, died Friday night in an apparent fall in Brooklyn, reports the New York Times. He was 21. Police say that his death "appeared to be accidental" and that he slipped while getting up from sitting on a fourth-floor fire escape with a friend. "The entire Les Misérables family is shocked and devastated by the sudden and tragic loss of Kyle, a remarkable young talent and tremendous person who made magic—and history—in his Broadway debut," said a statement on the production's Facebook page. Jean-Baptiste joined the production a day after graduating college in May, and made his debut as Valjean--his "dream role" on July 23, reports CNN. "Thank you for all the love! Last night was one of the best nights of my life," he said afterward.