It's Tony Awards season! One of my absolute favorite times of the year in New York City. With so many wonderfully diverse and interesting performers this year on Broadway, I thought it would be fun to learn a little bit more about the nominees in each category before the big night on June 12th!
1st up: Best Performance by an
Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Meet Danielle Brooks
The Color Purple (Sofia)
Hometown: Greenville, South Carolina
Training: South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts & Humanities, The Juilliard School (2011 grad)
Big Break: Although she got her start in regional theatre at Shakespeare Theatre Company's The Servant of Two Masters, she won the breakout role of Taystee in Netflix's Orange is the New Black, a year after graduating from Juilliard. Originally, the role was created for 2 episodes, but was soon written into the entire series. This is her Broadway debut!
Fun Fact: She is not only an inspiration to so many, but she is one of the hardest working actresses on Broadway. She works on both The Color Purple & Orange is the New Black at the SAME time and spends any "free days" doing press and photoshoots.
Meet Renée Elise Goldsberry
Hamilton (Angelica Schuyler)
Hometown: Houston, Texas & Detroit, Michigan
Training: Carnegie Mellon & University of Southern California (Masters Degree in Vocal Jazz Performance)
Big Break: An accomplished TV, Film, and Broadway actress and singer/songwriter, Renée played Nala in The Lion King and originated Nettie in The Color Purple before going on to play the final Mimi in Rent. She also was on Ally McBeal with fellow nominee, Jane Krakowski, and One Life to Live.
Fun Fact: Renée is an adjunct professor at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. Also, in her junior year of high school, she defied traditional casting and snagged the role of Nellie Forbush in South Pacific.
Meet Jane Krakowski
She Loves Me (Ilona)
Hometown: Parsippany, NJ
Training: Rutgers University, Mason Gross School of the Arts
Big Break: Jane made her Broadway Debut at the age of 18 inStarlight Express and was nominated for her first Tony Award for Grand Hotel at the age of 22! She also has appeared on Broadway in Company, Once Upon a Mattress, and won a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for her work as Carla in Nine.
Fun Fact: Before starring in Ally McBeal, 30 Rock, and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Jane was up for Rachel in Friends. Also, this multi-talented actor/singer/dancer started her dance training at the young age of 3!
Meet Jennifer Simard
Disaster! On Broadway! (Sister Mary)
Hometown: Litchfield, New Hampshire
Training: Boston Conservatory & Hunter College
Big Break: Although Jennifer is no stranger to the Broadway stage having appeared in Sister Act, Shrek The Musical, and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and receiving 4 Drama Desk Award nominations, her standout, scene stealing performance in Disaster has solidified her as the musical theatre comedy genius to watch in upcoming seasons!
Fun Fact: She has been friends with show creators Seth Rudetsky and Jack Plotnick for over 25 years! Let's hope we get to see her perform on the Tony Awards (#PutSimardOn).
Meet Adrienne Warren
Shuffle Along (Gertrude Saunders/Florence Mills)
Hometown: Chesapeake, Virginia
Training: Virginia Governor's School for the Arts, Marymount Manhattan College
Big Break: Although she was scouted by an agent in her sophomore year production of Ragtime, she promised her parents she would stay in school and only take roles during summer breaks. Only 2 days after graduation, she booked Encore's City Center's The Wiz and went on to play Lorell in the National Tour of Dreamgirls before making her Broadway debut as Danielle in Bring It On.
Fun Fact: Long before Quvenzhane' Wallis played Annie in the 2014 movie version, Adrienne was the first African-American actress to play the title role of Annie in a regional production at the age of 11.
What an incredible group of ladies! Who is your favorite?
Let me know in the comments below!
Check back on Wednesday to
Meet the 2016 Tony Awards Nominees:
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
Tom Morin is a NYC-based acting coach, co-founder of Polish Your Passion, and a professional actor/singer. He holds a B.A. in Theatre & Political Science from the College of the Holy Cross and an M.F.A. in Acting from Ohio University and has been teaching for the past 9 years, advising and coaching students through the college audition process and beyond. He loves coffee, Shakespeare, and YouTube.