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Tonys: Four Black Actors Win Best Musical Performances for First Time

Take that, Oscars.

As the Academy is just recovering from its #OscarsSoWhite fiasco, stemming from its all-white acting nominees, the Tony Awards set a new benchmark in diversity, thanks in large part to big winner “Hamilton.” The show saw all four musical acting awards (lead actor, lead actress, featured actor and featured actress) go to black actors for the first time of the ceremony’s history.

Three of those awards went to Broadway hit “Hamilton,” which has been heralded specifically for its diverse cast: Leslie Odom, Jr. (lead actor), Daveed Diggs (featured actor) and Renee Elise Goldsberry (featured actress) took home the prizes. “The Color Purple” broke “Hamilton’s” streak by winning Cynthia Erivo lead actress, but the fact remains: the 70th edition of Broadway’s biggest night made history.

And it’s not just the winners, either. Many of the rest of the nominees in the aforementioned categories were diverse as well, including the featured actor slate, which included Christopher Jackson of “Hamilton” and Brandon Victor Dixon of “Shuffle Along.”

Backstage, after the show, “Hamilton” producer Jeffrey Seller praised the show’s star and creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, for the “notion of making ‘Hamilton’ look like America today,” commenting on its diversity in a production set decades ago. (Miranda was a big winner himself, winning best book for a musical and best original score.)

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Diggs said he was pleased that the diversity on stage is encouraging children of all ages to get involved with theater. “There is so much diversity on Broadway right now,” he said backstage. “It’s nice to have it feeling a little more mainstream and a lot more inclusive.”

Goldsberry commented on the diversity of the winners backstage as well. “I do create artificial barriers for myself but I never, never, never see that the fact that I may not look like someone makes me unfit to play them,” she told reporters after the show.

Brent Lang contributed to this report.

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