How Diverse Were This Year’s Tony Awards?

Last year, we shared an infographic and study on diversity (or the lack thereof) in the Tony Awards and theater. Here’s what it looked like:

Tony Awards Infographic

An interview with award-winning writer, actor, and filmmaker Christine Toy Johnson illuminates some of the challenges that actors of color often face on and off Broadway:

No Asian American female playwright has ever been produced on Broadway. Ever. . . . I believe that the only way we’ll see our roles increase is if more of our stories are produced (written by and/or about us), and/or if more playwrights/directors/producers are open to having people of color play non-race specific roles they write/direct/produce.

The reality is that on Broadway, we are often relegated to the supporting roles (which are often great, but still!), and with all the other things I’ve mentioned above, I believe, unfortunately, that the chances of an Asian American actor starring in a Broadway production are slim. There is also a vicious circle of producers wanting actors with TV and film notoriety to star in their Broadway shows, but because of the unevenness of access/opportunity in TV and film for actors of color, there aren’t as many TV and film “stars” of color to come take Broadway by storm.”

Last night marked the 68th annual Tony Awards so we thought we’d check in and see how the awards fared this year, diversity-wise. Of the six major categories above, two Tonys went to people of color:

Audra McDonald: Best Actress in a Play Tony for “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill”

Kenny Leon: Best Director of a Play for “A Raisin in the Sun”

The biggest news is that Audra McDonald has made history by winning her sixth Tony for acting, the most ever. Those wins include Tonys in all four major acting categories. In an industry that has, statistically speaking, not been very inclusive historically toward women and people of color, her win is especially poignant.

Audra McDonald in her Tony-winning role as Billie Holiday in
Audra McDonald in her Tony-winning role as Billie Holiday in “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill”

Congratulations to Ms. McDonald and the rest of the winners! Hopefully the year to come will bring an even greater diversity of talent, both onstage and behind the curtain!

EDIT (6/23/14): Interesting article from the NY Times about how Asian American actors are currently in demand.


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