J. Harrison Ghee and Alex Newell Make History as First Non-Binary People to Win Acting Tony Awards

J. Harrison Ghee and Alex Newell etch their names in history as trailblazing nonbinary individuals to claim Tony Awards for their remarkable acting achievements.

Amid ongoing writers’ strikes, the Tony Awards ceremony unfolded, celebrating the grandeur of theater while breaking new ground.

Ariana DeBose skillfully helmed the evening as the host, and a notable highlight emerged when Jodie Comer secured the coveted Best Actress in a Play accolade for her exceptional performance in Prima Facie. Additionally, Tom Stoppard’s Leopoldstadt emerged triumphant as the Best Play winner.

However, the true historical significance of the night lay in the recognition bestowed upon nonbinary talents, Ghee and Newell, as they claimed their respective Tony Awards for acting.

Ghee soared to victory as they clinched the Best Actor in a Musical award for their stellar portrayal in Some Like It Hot. During their acceptance speech, Ghee paid tribute to their upbringing, stating, “My mother raised me to understand that my gifts that God gave me were not about me. To use them to be effective in the world, to help somebody else’s journey.” They went on to express gratitude, saying, “For every trans, non-binary, gender-nonconforming human who ever was told you couldn’t be, you couldn’t be seen, this is for you.”

Alongside Ghee, Newell made a resounding impact and earned the well-deserved honor of Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical for their portrayal of Lulu in Shucked. The remarkable performance, including the unforgettable number ‘Independently Owned,’ left audiences astounded. Newell, while accepting the award, humbly declared, “I have wanted this my entire life… I should not be up here as a queer non-binary fat little baby from Massachusetts. And to anyone who thinks they can’t do it – you can do anything you put your mind to.”

Other notable highlights of the evening included Kimberly Akimbo securing the Best Musical award, Sean Hayes being recognized as Best Actor in a Play, and Victoria Clark’s triumphant win as Best Actress in a Musical.

Meanwhile, during the event, the iconic Samuel L. Jackson garnered a nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play for his remarkable contribution to The Piano Lesson. Although not emerging as the winner, Jackson’s reaction caught attention as he displayed a knowing expression, acknowledging the outcome with a somewhat somber demeanor while applauding the victor, Brandon Uranowitz.

Despite the ceremony proceeding without a script, it proved to be an immense success, marking a significant stride toward fostering diversity within the realm of awards ceremonies. The recognition of Ghee and Newell as the first nonbinary Tony Award winners underscores the progressive spirit that permeates the theater community and paves the way for future milestones.

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