Meet the 2016 Tony Awards Nominees: Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play

This talented group of ladies tackled some of the most ridiculously challenging dramatic roles on Broadway! Pouring their hearts out 8 shows a week, they gave us risky, emotionally charged performances that captured the complexity of the human spirit.

Today's Spotlight: Best Performance by an

Actress in a Leading Role in a Play


Meet Jessica Lange

Long Day's Journey Into Night (Mary Tyrone)

Hometown: Cloquet, Minnesota

Training: University of Minnesota (Art & Photography), student of Etienne Decroux in Paris

Big Break: One of the greatest film/TV/stage actresses in history, Jessica was first discovered by Wilhelmina Modeling Agency and made her film debut in the 1976 remake of King Kong. She went on to win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Tootsie (1982) and Best Actress for Blue Sky (1994). She also has been nominated for Academy Awards for her work in Frances (1982), Country (1984), Sweet Dreams (1985), and Music Box (1989) and plays beloved characters in All That Jazz (1979) and Big Fish (2003). On TV, she starred as Big Edie in HBO's Grey Gardens (2009) and has numerous awards for her work during several seasons of American Horror Story (2011-2015). On Broadway, she appeared as Blanche Du Bois in A Streetcar Named Desire (1992) and Amanda in The Glass Menagerie (2005). This is shockingly her first Tony Award nomination.

Fun Fact: Jessica is a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Children's Fund. She is also a professional photographer and has several photo-books and has brought exhibits to many countries around the world.


Meet Laurie Metcalf

Misery (Annie Wilkes)

Hometown: Edwardsville, Illinois

Training: Illinois State University

Big Break: Perhaps best known as Jackie, Roseanne Barr's sister on the 90's sitcom Roseanne (winning 3 Emmy Awards for her work on the show), and more recently for The McCarthys, Getting On, and The Big Bang Theory, Laurie is an accomplished stage veteran. She is a founding member of the legendary Steppenwolf Theatre Company and gained major attention in 1983 when she played Darlene in Balm in Gilead, a character who has a 21 minute monologue. She has appeared on Broadway in My Thing Of Love (1995), November (2008; Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Play), Brighton Beach Memoirs (2009), and "The Other Place" (2013; Tony Award nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role in a Play). On film, she is the animated voice of Mrs. Davis in Toy Story and Debbie Loomis/Debbie Salt in Scream 2.

Fun Fact: Skeptical of the practicality of pursuing an acting career, Laurie started out as an office secretary for a long time and even studied German and Anthropology in college. Also, if you pass her on her way to the theatre, you might get a sneak peak of the show. She runs her lines aloud as she walks!


Meet Lupita Nyong'o

Eclipsed (The Girl)

Hometown: Nairobi, Kenya

Training: Hampshire College (BA in Film & Theatre Studies), Yale School of Drama (MFA in Acting) Big Break: Starting her early career as a Production Assistant for several Hollywood film projects including The Constant Gardner, a conversation on set with Ralph Fiennes inspired her to kick up her efforts into high gear. She went on to attend Yale School of Drama, and shortly after graduation, recorded a video submission for Steve McQueen that literally changed her life. Her star turn as Patsey in McQueen's 12 Years a Slave, not only catapulted her career, but also won her an Oscar in 2013 for Best Supporting Actress. Eclipsed is her Broadway debut. Fun Fact: Truly multicultural, she was born in Mexico because her parents were in political exile from Kenya and she also speaks Spanish, Swahili, Italian. Her Kenyan tribe, Luo, is even same tribe as President Obama's dad! We also have The Color Purple to thank for Lupita. She credits viewing Whoopi Goldberg's Celie as the first time she felt like it was possible to become an actor.


Meet Sophie Okonedo

The Crucible (Elizabeth Proctor)