Two performers who identify as nonbinary made history at Sunday’s Tony Awards.
Alex Newell and J. Harrison Ghee made Tony Awards history twice within a month’s timespan. They became the first nonbinary people to be nominated and subsequently win Tonys on Sunday (June 11) for Best Featured Actor in a Musical and Best Performance By An Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical, respectively.
Newell stars as Lulu in Shucked while Ghee stars as Jerry/Daphne in Some Like It Hot.
In their acceptance speech, the latter expressed, “My mother raised me to understand that the gifts 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 non-conforming human — whoever was told they couldn’t be, couldn’t be seen, this is for you… ‘Some Like It Hot’ and that ain’t bad. Honey, and that’s the gospel according to J.”
Upon accepting their win, Newell stated, “I have wanted this my entire life… Thank you for seeing me, Broadway. I should not be up here as a queer, non-binary, fat, Black little baby from Massachusetts. And to anyone that thinks that they can’t do it, I’m going to look you dead in your face that you can do anything you put your mind to.”
Ahead of their wins, Newell spoke with MSNBC (below) on the joy of representing a “sexy, plus-size chocolate woman” onstage and Ghee dished on how they bring their personal journey of identity to their role.
Ghee is also up for Emmy consideration for their performance in Fox’s anthology series, Accused.