Alex Newell and J. Harrison Ghee became the first nonbinary actors to win Tony Awards at the 76th annual event hosted by Ariana DeBose and held at the United Palace Theater in New York City’s Washington Heights neighborhood. Newell took home the Tony for best performance in a featured role in a musical for their role as Lulu in “Shucked,” a 2022 musical comedy that aired March 8 on Broadway.
“I’m not gonna hold y’all cause it hot in here,” Newell said during their acceptance speech at the Tony Awards. “I have wanted this my entire life.”
They added, ‘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.’ Also in the show, Ghee won the Tony for best performance by an actor in a leading role in a musical as Jerry/Daphne in the hit revival of “Some Like It Hot,” based on the 1959 film starring Marilyn Monroe.
“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,” Ghee said during their acceptance speech at the Tony Awards.
Ghee added, “So thank you for teaching me how to live, how to love, how to give. For every trans, nonbinary, gender-nonconforming human whoever was told you couldn’t be, you couldn’t be seen, this is for you.” In an interview with Variety, Ghee spoke about their decision to submit as lead actor for this year’s Primetime Emmys for their performance in Fox’s anthology series “Accused.”
They explained, “It’s not a gendered profession to me, and I was grateful to be asked for consideration on where I wanted to be viewed,” said Ghee. “Making that decision wasn’t hard on my spirit. It was just to be confident and intentional about my work and meeting the moment.” Notably, the win comes with the Emmy nomination voting period opening this Thursday, June 15.
Newell also explained to Variety why they opted to compete in the supporting actor category. They said, “I went based on the English language,” Newell said. “Everyone who does acting is an actor. That is genderless,” while wearing a slouchy sweater and ripped jeans in their dressing room at the Nederlander Theater before a performance. However, the 76th Tony Awards were allowed to go on, albeit unscripted, hence, viewers found out if DeBose was as good as the host she is at singing and dancing.
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