Tony Awards 2023: Samuel L. Jackson, Corey Hawkins, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and More Black Celebs Who Secured Nominations
Several days ago, nominees for the 2023 Tony Awards were revealed and a plethora of our faves were blessed enough to receive recognition for their works. As you may recall, last fall, we told you about a handful of Black-leading and/or Black-centric plays and musicals headed the to Broadway like Topdog/Underdog, Death of a Salesman, Ohio State Murders, The Piano Lesson and more.
Now, after rave reviews and beyond stellar performances, all those shows and others have secured nominations. The winners will be revealed at the The 76th Annual Tony Awards, hosted by Ariana DeBose, airing live from New York City’s Washington Heights on Sunday, June 11, at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on CBS, and streaming live and on-demand on Paramount+.
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And since we like to celebrate all kinds of Blackity black excellence in the arts over on this side of the internet, let’s go ahead and get started with...
In the Heights star Corey Hawkins received a Tony nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play for Topdog/Underdog.
In a statement celebrating the news, Hawkins told Deadline: “A huge honor to be nominated again in this category, this year alongside my brother Yahya! I had the privilege of embodying a character in Lincoln that will live with me and with countless others forever. One of the most challenging and rewarding roles I’ve ever taken on. Suzan-Lori Parks wrote a masterful symphony, Topdog/Underdog.”
“All we had to do was play the music under the skilled leadership of our conductor, Kenny Leon. It is an homage to black men, to the unseen, to the underdogs. Grateful for the journey and to the audiences we got to share each night with on the boards. Big ups to the Topdog team!” he said.
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II
Emmy-winning actor Yahya Abdul-Mateen II also received a Tony nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play for Topdog/Underdog, which means he’ll be going against his fellow costar.
“I was introduced to you at 20 years old. You taught me that there was a place in the theater if I were daring enough to take up space. You were confirmation that I belonged. Today, 16 years later, as I wake up to news of a Tony Award Nomination for the role I’ve dreamt about for so long, you continue to be the gift that keeps on giving. I’m grateful to Suzan-Lori Parks, to my Director Kenny Leon, the entire creative team including our producers, and especially my brother on the boards, Corey Hawkins. Congratulations to my fellow nominees. It’s a pleasure to be amongst great company.”
Suzan-Lori Parks’ Topdog/Underdog
Topdog/Underdog on Broadway | Show Clips
The Pulitzer Prize-winning play also received the nomination for Best Revival of a Play, alongside The Piano Lesson, starring Samuel L. Jackson, John David Washington and Danielle Brooks.
“I am thrilled and deeply honored to have my work embraced and recognized! And I’m also so happy for Corey and Yahya! Our Topdog revival was a joyous team effort, with Kenny Leon leading the way! I’m doing my happy dance!”
Samuel L. Jackson
Samuel L. Jackson is up for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play, for August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson, directed by his wife LaTanya Richardson.
“It’s a thrill to be nominated – this honor is particularly special having been under the direction of LaTanya and getting to continue August Wilson’s legacy on Broadway after first performing The Piano Lesson on stage at the Yale Repertory Theater 35 years ago. Thank you to the members of the American Theater Wing & Broadway League. Congratulations to all of the nominees.”
August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson
THE PIANO LESSON is now playing Broadway’s Barrymore Theatre | First Preview
August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson also received a nomination for Best Revival of a Play, which means it’ll go up against Topdog.
Celebrating the news, director LaTanya Richardson Jackson said in a statement to Deadline, “This glorious recognition of August Wilson’s beautiful work, The Piano Lesson, amplifies his legacy and supports it as a living representation of our culture. It honors August and I am overjoyed.”
Though Wendell Pierce already received a Tony for production for the 2012 play Clybourne Park, his acting chops have now earned him a nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play.
In a tweet celebrating the news, Pierce said: “After years of creating a body of work in the theater, I received a Tony Award nomination for Best Lead Actor in a Play for DEATH OF A SALESMAN. I am profoundly grateful &moved to tears that my colleagues would bestow on me this honor. I share this with my cast. We create as one.”
Stephen McKinley Henderson
Legendary actor Stephen McKinley Henderson received a nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play for his role in Between Riverside and Crazy.
“I am grateful to be part of a wonderful journey with Stephen Adley Guirgis and Austin Pendelton,” Henderson told Deadline. “It takes an ensemble for an actor to get a nomination. I’ve been surrounded by a family of actors and a village of stage managers and crews. from beginning to end. To be nominated in this exceptional Broadway season is a tremendous joy.”
With this nomination, it makes the first time four Black actors—Henderson, Pierce, Abdul-Mateen II, and Hawkins—have ever been nominated for Actor in a Leading Role.
For her role in Ohio State Murders, Audra McDonald received a nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play.
“I am honored to have been nominated for Ohio State Murders,” she told Deadline. “Having the opportunity to work with Kenny Leon, and to be a part of Adrienne Kennedy’s long-overdue Broadway debut of her extraordinary, relevant, and powerful work, was one of the most important artistic experiences of my life.”
For Some Like It Hot, Amber Ruffin and co-writer Matthew Lopez received a nomination for Best Book of a Musical.
“We are thrilled to be nominated alongside so many from our Some Like It Hot family. Our show has always been to us about the power of the community to uplift individuals,” Ruffin told Deadline. “That it has been received by audiences and by the Tony nominators with that same spirit makes this all feel full circle. We hope these nominations help bring the show and its message of self-acceptance and self-fulfillment to an even wider audience than before.”
J. Harrison Ghee
For their role in Some Like It Hot, J. Harrison Ghee received a nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical.
“I’m thrilled! It has been a fantastic journey to portray Jerry/Daphne, and I’ve been overwhelmed—in a good way—to see how audiences have received these characters,” Ghee told Deadline. “I’m thankful to every member of this production for creating such an affirming space where I get to show the complexity of this human and go on a beautiful ride every time the curtains go up. I’m grateful to the committee for recognizing this work. It’s a moment I will cherish forever.”
For her role in Fat Ham, Nikki Crawford received a nomination Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play.
Fat Ham received several nominations for Best Play, Best Direction of a Play (Saheem Ali), and Best Costume Design of a Play.
Jordan E. Cooper
For his role in Ain’t No More, creator Jordan E. Cooper received a nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play.
“What a morning! I got to watch the nominations in Texas with my parents in the same living room that I used to do plays in as a kid. Ain’t No Mo’ may not have had a long life on Broadway but it sure did have an impactful one,” Cooper told Deadline. “The work matters. I’m so incredibly grateful to the American Theater Wing, Lee Daniels, my incredible director, cast and crew along with everyone who championed this bold play all over the country.”
For her role in Ain’t No Mo, Crystal Lucas-Perry received nomination Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play.
Ain’t No Mo
Jordan E. Cooper’s play Ain’t No More received the nomination for Best Play, Best Direction of a Play (Stevie Walker-Webb), and Best Costume Design of a Play (Emilio Sosa.)
For her role in Cost of Living, Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play.
For her role in Shucked, Alex Newell received a nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical.
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