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Black women win big at the 2024 Tony Awards (videos)

Two of the women won awards for the Alicia Keys’ stage play, ‘Hell’s Kitchen’
Maleah Joi Moon
Maleah Joi Moon (Image source: YouTube/CBS)

Three Black women had the night of their lives at the 77th annual Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in Broadway Theater, better known as the Tony Awards, in New York on Sunday, June 16.

Maleah Joi Moon began to weep with joy as soon as her first name was read as the winner of the 2024 Tony Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical for Hell’s Kitchen. 

Moon became the 101st thespian to win in their stage acting debut when she starred in the Off-Broadway lead role of Ali in Alicia Keys’ acclaimed musical, Hell’s Kitchen

“It’s surreal and it’s ridiculous and crazy and insane and all the things,” said Moon, 21. “But my inner child — the one that wanted to be Nala on Broadway — is like, this is aligned. It’s divine alignment. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t meant.”

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Jay-Z and Alicia Keys perform “Empire State of Mind” to a rousing standing ovation

The electric evening for Moon was amplified early in the awards program when she was able to perform songs written and produced by Keys, whose childhood Hell’s Kitchen was based on.

Keys also performed the blockbuster hit “Empire State of Mind,” which brought the crowd to its feet — especially when hip-hop mogul Jay-Z surprised attendees by appearing to perform the song with Keys.

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More Black women were honored at the 77th Tony Awards

The musical at the Shubert Theatre featured 17-year-old Ali who shared a shoe-box-type apartment near Times Square. Ali wants to live out her dream, but her mother (played by 2024 Tony nominee Shoshana Bean) is filled with trepidation that her daughter will duplicate her mistakes at that same age. 

Moon appropriately dedicated the award to her parents, who deferred their dreams to help Moon achieve hers. “I love you more than words, thank you,” she said while trying to compose herself. 

Moon was able to share her state of nirvana with Kecia Lewis, who won Best Featured Actress in a Musical. She played the mentor to Moon’s character in Hell’s Kitchen. Just as momentous, Lewis made her stage debut in the classic stage musical Dreamgirls 40 years ago, making this a full-circle moment for Lewis.

Kara Young won “Best Featured Actress in a Play” for her hilarious performance in Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch. After announcing “Happy Father’s Day,” Young paid homage to her ancestors, including her grandmother, who died two weeks after seeing Young in the production. 

Young also showed reverence to the late legendary Ruby Dee, who originated the role of Lutiebelle Gussie Mae Jenkins in the play, which was written by Dee’s husband, the venerated Ossie Davis.

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