The unprecedented happened several times over at this year’s Tony Awards. (No, we’re not talking about actor/singer Jonathan Groff finally winning his own statuette.)

Numerous women garnered history-making recognition from the 77th annual celebration of all things Broadway and theater – and that’s after women directors already blazed trails by snagging more directorial nominations in 2024 than in any other year of the presentation’s history. 

First, Shaina Taub, who wrote “Suffs” – a musical based on the suffragist movement – won for Best Score (music) and Best Book (dialogue) of a Musical, the first woman ever to do so. The dual win is meaningful to her, as someone who once felt pressured to pick a creative lane. 

“Early in my career, I was like, ‘Okay I’m acting, okay I’m composing, maybe I need to pick a box, [I’m] trying to do too much, people are going to think I’m jack of all trades master of none,’ whatever,” she told Playbill. “But I saw so many male creatives, wonderful male creatives, never question the fact that they were multi-hyphenate.”

She added: “[W]hen I finally started to embrace that I was a multi-hyphenate – as a feature, not a bug – I finally started making my best work and getting the best opportunities that I’d had.”

Costume designer Dede Ayite, meanwhile, became the first Black person to ever win for their wardrobe vision in a play (the comedy “Jaja’s African Hair Braiding”). She had also been nominated this year for her design work on family-drama play “Appropriate,” as well as Alicia Keys’ jukebox musical, “Hell’s Kitchen.” 

In her own Playbill interview, she noted how “monumental” the win is – both personally, and globally. “I’m hoping [this victory] inspires … younger designers to know when it feels impossible, even when they’re unsure, to just keep moving forward.”

And the Black female excellence continued with actress Kara Young, who won a Tony for her performance in the three-act comedy “Purlie Victorious,” after making her own history as the first Black woman nominated for Best Featured Actress in a Play three consecutive years running.

After a rousing round of applause, Young emotionally thanked those who came before her in her acceptance speech – the matriarchs, especially. “Thank you to my ancestors, the women who I come from, the people who I come from,” she said, citing in particular her great-grandmother, Hazel Baptist, for seeing the show just before she died, and her parents, for their ongoing support.

Young concluded her speech with a nod to the night of encouraging firsts: “This is to the vibration of the liberation for humanity.”

(Featured Image Credit: Playbill)