Tony nominations were announced last week, which means Broadway has officially caught Tony fever, and I have officially gone into spreadsheet mode. With countless statistics on nominees and winners, the Tonys are a gold mine for finding concise information on diversity both on stage and behind the scenes of Broadway.
I looked at the diversity for all of the shows in the 2016-17 Broadway season a few weeks ago, but this time I wanted to dig deeper and get a peek at what Broadway has looked like over the past 11 seasons–and what I found was not surprising, but very disheartening: gender and racial representation is lacking. (Check out my infographic below to see the stats!)
As I said before: I am in no way questioning the talent of those who were nominated and those who have won. I have no doubt that they put in years of effort and hard work on their road to Broadway. I understand there are countless other factors that go into nominating and choosing winners for Tonys besides race and gender.
However, there is a problem when no people of color were nominated for 11 of the 24 awards categories this year. There is a problem when women make up 50.8% of the population but only about 38% of this year’s nominees.
Because I wrote on the topic previously, I won’t go into too much detail on why this is important (voices are being silenced, visions aren’t being seen, culture is being lost), but I will say this: from these statistics, I gather that there needs to be more opportunities for women and minorities to get involved in all aspects of theatre from an early age, and then later on, they need to both be and feel welcomed in “the rooms where it happens.” It is imperative that their voices are heard. When every nominated book writer for a musical is a white man for three years in a row, there is a serious problem. It means not only are writers of color not being nominated, they are not being produced as frequently as white writers, and they may not even be writing plays as frequently. Why? I posit that it goes back to sheer lack of opportunity.
As my friends say, the nominations were qwhite interesting this year. Last year, every musical performance category was won by a person of color. This year, that’s not even a possibility because 3 of the 4 categories do not even have nominees of color. Even then, so many racial categories were missing.
Here’s a rough breakdown of the 2017 nominees:
- 90% White
- 6.5% African-American
- 2.5% Asian
- 1% Latinx
- 0% South Asian
- 0% Pacific Islander
I realize there is only so much writing a blog post about diversity can do, considering I myself am merely a white woman with a laptop. But I hope that by creating awareness of just how insane these numbers are, just how difficult Broadway’s struggle with diversity is, I can do some good in the fight for representation. Acknowledging there is a problem is the first step to solving it. And solving it? That will take years, countless people, and a whole lot of new theatre.
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