Tony Awards

Spotlight on the 57 Tony-Winning African American Actors & Actresses

February 6th, 2015 by

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Spotlight on the 57 Tony-Winning African American Actors ...

February is way more than Valentine’s Day and the frigid cold, it’s also Black History Month, and in celebration, BroadwayBox takes a chronological look at the 53 African American actors and actresses to win Tony Awards in the eight competitive acting categories.

1950: Juanita Hall, South Pacific, Best Featured Actress in a Musical

Juanita Hall- Tony Award- South Pacific

Juanita Hall is the first African American to win a Tony Award; she's also the first person to ever win Best Featured Actress in a Musical, a category that was introduced in 1950.

1954: Harry Belafonte, John Murray Anderson’s Almanac, Best Featured Actor in a Musical

Harry Belafonte- Tony Award

1962: Diahann Carroll, No Strings, Best Actress in a Musical

Diahann Carroll- No Strings- Tony Awards

Carroll was the first African American actor or actress to win in a leading role.

1968: Leslie Uggams, Hallelujah, Baby!, Best Actress in a Musical


1968: Lillian Hayman, Hallelujah, Baby!, Best Featured Actress in a Musical

Lillian Hayman- Tony Award

1969: James Earl Jones, The Great White Hope, Best Actor in a Play

James Earl Jones- The Great White Hope

Jones was the first African American winner in any play category.

1970: Cleavon Little, Purlie, Best Actor in a Musical

Cleavon Little- Tony Award- Purlie

1970: Melba Moore, Purlie, Best Featured Actress in a Musical


1972: Linda Hopkins, Inner City, Best Featured Actress in a Musical

Linda Hopkins- Tony Award- Inner City

Photo by Bert Andrews


1973: Ben Vereen, Pippin, Best Actor in a Musical


1974: Virginia Capers, Raisin, Best Actress in a Musical


1975: Ted Ross, The Wiz, Best Featured Actor in a Musical

Ted Ross- The Wiz- Broadway

1975: Dee Dee Bridgewater, The Wiz, Best Featured Actress in a Musical

Dee Dee Bridgewater- The Wiz- Tony Award

1977: Delores Hall, Your Arms Too Short to Box with God, Best Featured Actress in a Musical


1977: Trazana Beverley, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf, Best Featured Actress in a Play

Trazana Beverley- Tony Award- For Colored Girls

1978: Nell Carter, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Best Featured Actress in a Musical


1981: Hinton Battle, Sophisticated Ladies, Best Featured Actor in a Musical


1982: Ben Harney, Dreamgirls, Best Actor in a Musical

Ben Harney- Dreamgirls- Tony Award

1982: Jennifer Holliday, Dreamgirls, Best Actress in a Musical


1982: Cleavant Derricks, Dreamgirls, Best Featured Actor in a Musical


1982: Zakes Mokae, Master Harold…and the Boys, Best Featured Actor in a Play

Zakes Mokae- Matser Harold- Tony Award

1984: Hinton Battle, The Tap Dance Kid, Best Featured Actor in a Musical


1985: Ron Richardson, Big River, Best Featured Actor in a Musical


1985: Leilani Jones, Grind, Best Featured Actress in a Musical

Leilani Jones- Grind- Tony Awards

1987: James Earl Jones, Fences, Best Actor in a Play


1987: Mary Alice, Fences, Best Featured Actress in a Play

Mary Alice- Fences- Tony Award

Photo by Paul J. Penders


1988: L. Scott Caldwell, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, Best Featured Actress in a Play


1989: Ruth Brown, Black and Blue, Best Actress in a Musical


1991: Hinton Battle, Miss Saigon, Best Featured Actor in a Musical


1992: Gregory Hines, Jelly’s Last Jam, Best Actor in a Musical


1992: Tonya Pinkins, Jelly’s Last Jam, Best Featured Actress in a Musical

Jelly's Last Jam- Tonya Pinkins

1992: Laurence Fishburne, Two Trains Running, Best Featured Actor in a Play

Laurence Fishburne- Two Trains Running- Tony Award

1994: Audra McDonald, Carousel, Best Featured Actress in a Musical

Audra McDonald- Carousel- Tony Award

1994: Jeffrey Wright, Angels in America: Perestroika, Best Featured Actor in a Play


1995: Gretha Boston, Show Boat, Best Featured Actress in a Musical


1996: Ann Duquesnay, Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk, Best Featured Actress in a Musical

ann duquesnay - bring in da noise- Tony Award

1996: Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Seven Guitars, Best Featured Actor in a Play

Ruben Santiago Hudson- Seven Guitars- Tony Award

1996: Audra McDonald, Master Class, Best Featured Actress in a Play

Audra McDonald- Master Class- Zoe- GIF- Broadway

1997: Chuck Cooper, The Life, Best Featured Actor in a Musical

Chuck Cooper- The Life- Tony Award

1997: Lillias White, The Life, Best Featured Actress in a Musical


1997: Lynne Thigpen, An American Daughter, Best Featured Actress in a Play

Lynne Thigpen, An American Daughter- Tony Award

1998: Audra McDonald, Ragtime, Best Featured Actress in a Musical


2000: Brian Stokes Mitchell, Kiss Me, Kate, Best Actor in a Musical

Brian Stokes Mitchell- Kiss Me Kate- Tony Award

2000: Heather Headley, Aida, Best Actress in a Musical


2001: Viola Davis, King Hedley II, Best Featured Actress in a Play


2004: Phylicia Rashad, A Raisin in the Sun, Best Actress in a Play


2004: Anika Noni Rose, Caroline, or Change, Best Featured Actress in a Musical

Anika Noni Rose- Caroline or Change

2004: Audra McDonald, A Raisin in the Sun, Best Featured Actress in a Play

Audra McDonald- A Raisin in the Sun- Tony Award

Photo by Joan Marcus


2005: Adriane Lenox, Doubt, Best Featured Actress in a Play


2006: LaChanze, The Color Purple, Best Actress in a Musical

Lachanze- Tony Award- Color Purple

Photo by Paul Kolnik


2009: Roger Robinson, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, Best Featured Actor in a Play

Roger Robinson- Tony Award

2010: Denzel Washington, Fences, Best Actor in a Play

Denzel Washington- Fences- Broadway

2010: Viola Davis, Fences, Best Actress in a Play


2011: Nikki M. James, The Book of Mormon, Best Featured Actress in a Musical

Nikki M. James- Book of Mormon- Tony Award

2012: Audra McDonald, Porgy and Bess, Best Actress in a Musical

Audra McDonald- Porgy and Bess

2013: Billy Porter, Kinky Boots, Best Actor in a Musical


2013: Patina Miller Pippin, Best Actress in a Musical

Pippin- Manson Trio- Patina Miller- GIF

2013: Cicely Tyson, The Trip to Bountiful, Best Actress in a Play

Cicely Tyson- Tony Award- Trip to Bountiful-

Photo by New York Times


2013: Courtney B. Vance, Lucky Guy, Best Featured Actor in a Play

Courtney B Vance- Tony Award

2014: Audra McDonald, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, Best Actress in a Play


2014: James Monroe Iglehart, Aladdin, Best Featured Actor in a Musical


2014: Sophie Okonedo, A Raisin in the Sun, Best Featured Actress in a Play

Sophie Okonedo - Broadway- Raisin in the Sun

Photo by Bridgette Lacombe & Bruce Glikas


2016: Cynthia Erivo, The Color Purple, Best Actress in a Musical


2016: Leslie Odom Jr, Hamilton, Best Actor in a Musical

Hamilton GIF- Broadway- Leslie Odom Jr GIF- Aaron Burr- Dancing GIF

2016: Renee Elise Goldsberry, Hamilton, Best Featured Actress in a Musical


2016: Daveed Diggs, Hamilton, Best Featured Actor in a Musical

Daveed Diggs GIF- Hamilton GIF- WHat'd I Miss

Fun Bonus Facts: Stew is the only winner of Best Book of a Musical, and the late Geoffrey Holder is the only winner for Best Costumes and he’s also the first African American director to win Best Director of a Musical. Bill T. Jones is the only African American choreographer to win more than once, and George C. Wolfe is the most nominated African American artist with 20 nominations and five wins.