This Year’s Tony Awards Were the Blackest Ever

Tony Awards 2016

This Year’s Tony Awards Were the Blackest Ever

All acting awards for musicals went to performers of color.

Published June 13, 2016

While the Academy is still talking about inclusion in Hollywood, the theater world actually did something about it on Broadway this past season. 

From Hamilton to Eclipsed to The Color Purple to Shuffle Along, the Big Apple had more plays and musicals that focused on people of color than ever before. And this year's Tony Awards not only celebrated that diversity, but made history doing it as well.

Not only were there a record 14 nominations for actors of color in 2016, but Black actors swept the musical acting categories: Renée Elise Goldsberry (Hamilton), Leslie Odom Jr. (Hamilton), Daveed Diggs (Hamilton) and Cynthia Erivo (The Color Purple).

This is the first time that has ever happened in the Tony's 70-year history. 

Jezebel pointed out that Diggs praised his parents for supporting his creative streak in preschool. “My mom gave me permission to do something that everybody else wasn’t doing,” he said. Odom Jr. thanked the cast of color in his speech and told Lin-Manuel, “You’ve given us a new vision of what’s possible.”

Erivo used her time at the podium to thank writer Alice Walker for creating a story “that could last through time and time again.” And an emotional Goldsberry talked about her struggle to have children during what was the considered the prime time of her career.

“I’ve spent the last 10 years of my life, what some would consider the lifeblood of a woman’s career, just trying to have children. God gave me Benjamin, he gave me Brielle, and he still gave me this,” she said.

In addition, Hamilton won Best Musical, The Color Purple won Best Revival of a Musical and Eclipsed won for Best Costume Design in a Play. 

Werk!

Black excellence also dominated the show with stars in attendance such as Oprah Winfrey, Audra McDonald, CommonDanai Gurira, Lupita Nyong’o, Danielle Brooks and Heather Headley to name a few that rocked the red carpet.

Broadway hasn’t always been this diverse; the number of Black actors who won last night were more than the Tonys have handed to Black actors in a total of nine years, Fusion noted. This is a good start to what the future holds. 

Written by Kellee Terrell

(Photos: Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)

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