Cicely is Queen: Four African American Actors Get Top Honors at The Tonys…as Neil Patrick Harris Drops the N Word
But no matter. I admit that I missed a biggie last night. It marked only the second time in Tony history that four African American actors won top honors; the last time was in the early Eighties. And I am very happy for Cicely, very happy indeed. As she said in her speech, there was a reason why she was now all alone of her family to survive. There was still work in this world to do and honors to achieve. Like this one.
– Cicely Tyson, for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play (A Trip To Bountiful).
– Billy Porter, for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical (Kinky Boots).
– Patina Miller, for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical (Pippin).
– Courtney B. Vance, for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play (Lucky Guy).
Tonight’s 5th black winner was not an actor, but a producer – Ron Simons (also a producer of several films we’ve covered on this site). A play that he is one of the producers of – Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike – won the Tony Award for Best Play. This is Ron’s first nomination and win.
Courtney B. Vance’s win for Best Featured Actor was the first win of the night. Previously, Vance had been nominated for Fences and for Six Degrees of Separation. He played hard as editor Hap Hairston opposite Tom Hanks in Nora Ephron’s Lucky Guy, saying playing on Broadway was a grueling experience was harder than anything he’s done as an actor.
The opportunity to do a play by Nora Ephron, who died last year, was also a draw, he said. Though Vance didn’t know Ephron well, he’d admired her work and did a reading with her before the play opened.
“Nora’s just so wonderful,” he said. “It was just a wonderful opportunity to work with someone I’d admired for such a long time.”
Vance, married to Angela Bassett, said it was a different experience to leave Bassett and their two daughters at home as he went to the theater every night.
“My wife is the queen. There are very few actresses like Angela Bassett,” he said. “She had to go it alone with the twins and the nanny.”
Bassett was recently in both “Green Lantern” and “Jumping the Broom.”
Miller, last on Broadway in “Sister Act,” won the best lead actress in a musical trophy playing the same emcee part that won Ben Vereen a best-actor Tony in 1973.
The win caps a whirlwind few years for the Carnegie Mellon University graduate, who was nominated for back-to-back Tonys for her first roles on Broadway.
In Diane Paulus’ retelling of “Pippin,” Miller is a muscular creature with a hat and cane who dances Bob Fosse steps and does tricks on a trapeze while singing.
Miller beat Stephanie J. Block of “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” Carolee Carmello from “Scandalous,” Valisia LeKae from “Motown The Musical” and Laura Osnes from “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella.”
Billy Porter won the best actor for his role as Lola in Kinky Boots, which was singer Cyndi Lauper‘s first outing in composing a musical (based on friend Harvey Fierstein’s book of the same name, Lauper also won for Best Original Score).
Kinky Boots, from four-time Tony Award-winner Harvey Fierstein (book), Grammy Award-winning rock icon Cyndi Lauper (Music & Lyrics), Tony Award-winner Jerry Mitchell (Director & Choreographer), began preview performances on Broadway at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre (302 West 45th Street) on March 3, 2013 and opened April 4, 2013.
In Kinky Boots, Charlie Price (Sands) has suddenly inherited his father’s shoe factory, which is on the verge of bankruptcy. Trying to live up to his father’s legacy and save his family business, Charlie finds inspiration in the form of Lola (Porter). A fabulous entertainer in need of some sturdy stilettos, Lola turns out to be the one person who can help Charlie become the man he’s meant to be. As they work to turn the factory around, this unlikely pair finds that they have more in common than they ever dreamed possible… and discovers that when you change your mind about someone, you can change your whole world.
But did the now-legendary Neil Patrick Harris actually say the N word when Mike Tyson appeared during the opening number in a cameo? You be the judge. For me, I don’t think that it was a mistake. I turned the volume on this laptop all the way up. “Am I his n__r?” boomed out.
I like Neil, but I don’t like him singing those words, the songwriter for writing the lyrics, and the producers for making him sing that. It’s not okay. Fck being politically incorrect. This is about respect on a special night. It seemed as if the producers were thumbing their noses at people who brought the houses down and brought people into the theaters. My suggestion? Don’t do it again, thinking you’re being cool and hip. You’re not. You’re being asses, and that is mild.
- VIDEOS: Huge Night for Black Actors at Tonys: Cicely Tyson, Courtney B. Vance, Patina Miller (rodonline.typepad.com)
- Tony Awards 2013: List of Winners! (thehollywoodgossip.com)
- Four Black Actors Won Tony Awards Last Night – Only The Second Time In History (goodblacknews.org)
- Cicely Tyson, Cyndi Lauper take Tonys (cnn.com)
- Kinky Boots Is Top Winner At 2013 Tony Awards (ny1.com)