Anna Wintour is a tastemaker, and last year, she helped relaunch the Tonys as a must-watch event by upping the glamour on the red carpet. She brought in Kendall Jenner and the Hadids, but her love of theatre also extends beyond fashion. She helped make sure Danai Gurira, the writer of Broadway's Eclipsed, scored an invite to the MET Gala on Monday. Danai wore a white Giambattista Valli gown on the red carpet, and just hours later, she was making history.
Danai is an Obie Award-winning playwright, but she is best known for her work as Michonne on The Walking Dead. And now she's a Tony nominee. Eclipsed scored six Tony nominations yesterday, and Danai is the only female writer nominated for Best Play. Vox reports Eclipsed -- which first debuted in 2009 - is the first Broadway play to feature an all-black cast and creative team, and Broadway's embrace of Danai's work has certainly paid off.
Lupita Nyong'o earned a nod for her role as Wife Number Four -- as I predicted back in March, and as Kathleen will write about later today -- as did Pascale Armand (the hilarious Wife Number Three) and Saycon Sengbloh (the matriarchal Wife Number One). Director Liesl Tommy has an honour of her own, too.
The play is a coming-of-age story, and focuses on the lives of five women who are fighting to survive in the final days of Liberia's 14-year-long Civil War. Eclipsed shows how these women endured a seemingly endless run of rapes and sexual assault at the hands of their commanding officer, but does so with plenty of moments of brevity, and "savagely funny" humour. On paper, it doesn't necessarily sound like a must-see, but Danai's story, and the play's performances are so gripping that when you see it you barely want to buy a Lupita-themed drink at intermission. I saw it back in March, the night before it opened. Click here for a refresher.
This is the type of work and buzz that Anna is rewarding with a MET invitation. It may sound like a risk, but she's helping the show receive the visibility it deserves before the Tony news was even announced. While outlets are able to report about Danai's success story, they're also able to use those photos of her in the Giambattista Valli dress. Or of Lupita in Calvin Klein. Or even of newly-minted Tony nominee Michelle Williams in LV.
Also there? The Color Purple's Cynthia Erivo... another newly-minted Tony nominee. Her pre-nomination day tweet expresses her gratitude perfectly:
Tonight Anna Wintour said she was a fan of mine.— Cynthia Erivo (@CynthiaEriVo) May 3, 2016
Sarah Jessica Parker said I was beautiful.
I feel like a princess pic.twitter.com/6YBMG6RJyG
But back to Eclipsed. The A-Listers have seen it in droves:
Jared Leto, Bono, Chris Rock, Seth Meyers... And then some.
Anna and her MET team knew it's an important work and the Tony nominations have confirmed it. When will Hollywood be up for embracing these types of stories?
Thank you @TheTonyAwards for this incredible honor! So proud of the entire @Eclipsedbway family-6 #TonyAwards noms! pic.twitter.com/snnTjCcXPB— Danai Gurira (@DanaiGurira) May 3, 2016