Adrienne Warren received the Tony Award for best performance by a leading actress in a musical on Sept. 26 for her electric role as Tina Turner in Broadway’s Tina: The Tina Turner Musical. This is Adrienne’s first Tony to date. She began as Tina at London’s West End theater and brought that talent back to the United States when the show made its 2019 Broadway debut. (This year’s Tony Awards honored the shows of the 2019-2020 Broadway season after a postponement due to the COVID-19 pandemic.) Adrienne won over fellow nominees Karen Olivo from Moulin Rouge! The Musical and Jagged Little Pill‘s Elizabeth Stanley.
In her acceptance speech, Adrienne thanked her family members and, of course, music icon Tina Turner herself “for trusting me to bring her story home.” She went on to acknowledge the hard work of her cast members: “Each one of you are a star within your own right. Thank you for holding me in light and in prayer, and I wish you were in this room. And I really look forward to the day that the bodies and souls and spirits of those that are involved in these shows that we are celebrating can be invited and join the celebration with us.”
“The world has been screaming for us to change.”
Adrienne continued, “Those bodies, those souls, those spirits, they are what makes Broadway. And the second we start making this business and creating the business and working through the business through a lens of humanity and honoring those bodies and those souls and those spirits, the more the art will be transformative, the more the art will change lives, the more the art will change this world, because the world has been screaming for us to change.”
In 2016, Adrienne was among a group of Broadway members to establish the Broadway Advocacy Coalition, whose mission is, as stated on its website, “building the capacity of individuals, organizations, and communities to dismantle the systems that perpetuate racism through the power of storytelling and the leadership of people directly affected.” The coalition was honored with its own special Tony Award on Sept. 26.
Performances of Tina: The Tina Turner Musical are scheduled to resume on Oct. 8, but due to other acting commitments, Adrienne will leave the show after Oct. 31, The New York Times reports. Nkeki Obi-Melekwe, who previously played the lead role in the West End production after Adrienne as well as in matinee Broadway performances, will take over starting in November.
Ahead, see Adrienne in all her glory at the Tony Awards.