At Tonys, Performers of Color Win All Musical Acting Categories

Dimitrios Kambouris

Sunday's Tony Awards saw the four major musical acting honors going to people of color, a first in the show’s 70-year history.

The annual celebration of achievement in theater came some 6 months after the Oscar nominations -- which were widely chastised for ignoring the contributions of minority performers.

Cynthia Erivo, Leslie Odom Jr., Renée Elise Goldsberry and Daveed Diggs took home the top trophies at the 2016 Tonys. Erivo won for her starring role in "The Color Purple"; Odom Jr., Goldsberry and Diggs for their work in "Hamilton."

"Think of tonight as the Oscars, but with diversity," host James Corden said in his opening monologue.

Broadway has long been an inclusive arena. In 1982, three actors of color from "Dreamgirls" won musical acting awards.

"There are stories to be told and there are people who want to hear them," director Thomas Kail said, accepting the Tony for his work on "Hamilton."

"Growing up, I felt like there was no place for me here," Diggs told reporters after his win. "Having been a part of this season, I look around and see it's so inclusive. There is so much diversity on Broadway right now. I'm very proud to be a part of it."

"It makes me so happy to see so many theater kids nerding out over these shows because they can find themselves in that," he added.

"Hamilton," which went into the night with a record 16 nominations, took home 11 awards. It wasn't able to beat the record 12 awards previously won by 'The Producers" in 2001.

Lin-Manuel Miranda's hip-hop musical was introduced by a pre-taped message from Barack and Michelle Obama -- the first time a sitting president and first lady have appeared on the top theater awards.

"It’s a musical about the miracle that is America," the first lady said. "A place of inclusiveness where we value our boisterous diversity as a great gift," the president added.

"That’s the story of America," President Obama continued. "An experiment that is not yet finished. A project that belongs to all of us."

Barbra Streisand also made history on the awards, appearing to present an award for the first time since 1970.

The evening also included tribute to "Chicago" -- Broadway's longest running American musical -- which is currently celebrating 20 years on Broadway.

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