The Tony Awards made history when, first, Alex Newell won the prize for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical for their turn as Lulu in “Shucked”; soon after, J. Harrison Ghee took home the trophy for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical for their work as Jerry/Daphne in “Some Like It Hot.” Both Newell and Ghee are the first openly nonbinary performers to win a Tony Award.
“I should not be up here as a queer, nonbinary, fat, Black, little baby from Massachusetts,” Newell said in their acceptance speech. But Newell has put in the work. “I have wanted this my entire life,” they said to the crowd at the United Palace.
Newell burst onto the Broadway scene as Asaka in the 2017 Tony-winning revival of “Once on This Island.” Prior to that, they had competed on television’s “Glee Project,” the reality show that served as an audition for the narrative series “Glee.” (It’s worth noting that neither Newell nor fellow “Glee Project” alum, Ali Stroker, won “The Glee Project,” but both have since won Tonys — the latter in 2019 for her turn as Ado Annie in “Oklahoma!”)