Dear Gossips,   

History was made at the Tony Awards last night as Alex Newell and J Harrison Ghee became the first openly nonbinary actors to win awards. Alex won the Tony for Featured Actor in a Musical for their performance in Shucked and J Harrison won the Tony for Leading Actor in a Musical for their work in Some Like It Hot. 


During their acceptance speech J Harrison thanked their mother and dedicated their award to those who are seeing themselves in this moment: 

“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. So thank you for teaching me how to live, how to love, how to give. For every trans, nonbinary gender nonconforming human who was told you couldn’t be seen, this is for you.”

Both Alex and J Harrison chose to submit their nominations in their respective “actor” categories. When the nominations were first announced, Alex whose character is a woman “Lulu” in Shucked was interviewed by Rolling Stone and explained their decision: 

“Acting is my craft. I am an actor. Actor is a genderless word. It truly is. And the last time I checked, we didn’t say plumb-ess for a plumber. We didn’t say I’m going to see my doctor-ress.”


Here’s Alex onstage accepting their award: 

The Tony Awards were unscripted this year out of respect for the WGA and the writers’ strike and several of the night’s presenters and award winners made sure to express solidarity with the writers including Tom Stoppard who won Best Play for Leopoldstadt and said on stage that, “I’m teeming with emotions that chatbots wouldn’t begin to understand”, adding that “writers are the sharp end of the creative pyramid”. 


By the way, Tom has now won the Tony Award five times in five different decades so it’s history for him too. And this was a very personal story for him. Leopoldstadt is about the “destructive toll of antisemitism on a family of Viennese Jews”, the result of Tom’s “belated reckoning with his Jewish roots”. With Parade also winning for Best Revival of a Musical, the theme of the Tonys was a reminder of the consequences of hate and bigotry and a call for acceptance and inclusion for all marginalised communities. Antisemitism is on the rise around the world. The trans community is constantly under attack. But for those in the arts, the theatre is one of the safest spaces. And the Tony Awards should be an extension of that haven. 

Yours in gossip,