Women Make History at the 2024 Tony Awards

Sunday was the Tony Awards, and it was another exciting night for women! Shaina Taub, who wrote Suffs, had a particularly excellent night, but women took some other big categories that historically go to men. In fact, four women—Shaina Taub, Dede Ayite, Kara Young, and Nikiya Mathis—made history. Without further ado, here are the highlights of the 2024 Tony Awards!

First and foremost, Shaina Taub won the awards both for Best Book of a Musical, and for Best Original Score for Suffs. This made her the first woman ever to win both (with no co-writing credits). Suffs tells the story of Alice Paul (played by Shaine herself) and the National Women’s Party, as they fought for the right to vote. 

Shaina is no doubt deserving of these historical wins, as she deftly portrayed the women’s suffrage movement in all its complexity. As FF2 contributor Taylor Beckman said in her review of the show, “The production does not shy away from the more unsavory moments, complicating our view of the Suffs rather than hailing them as superhuman women.”

Shaina’s music and lyrics, too, are moving and powerful. Describing one song, Taylor says, “The typical “I want” song of the production comes in the form of “Finish the Fight,” a song sung by Alice Paul describing her goal to continue and then end the battle and the war on the way to (white) women’s suffrage. The tune both empowers and fills one with dread knowing that over 100 years later the fight is not finished. Some might even argue that the US is eking towards a more backwards ethos of the Suffs time.”

As Taylor says, the fight is not over, and this win could not have come at a more pivotal time. With abortion rights diminishing and a frightening presidential election on the horizon, Shaina’s win celebrates women, and more than that, it celebrates the importance of upholding democracy, and of the importance of activism. 

Click image to enlarge.

Another huge win went to Danya Taymor, who won Best Direction of a Musical for The Outsiders, making her the sixth woman ever to win this award. In fact, this category was even more exciting because more women directors were nominated for Tony Awards this year than any year in the past. In her emotional acceptance speech, Danya said, “To all the young artists out there who want to create—what some may perceive as a weakness or a liability in you might just be your superpower.” 

Kara Young made history as the first Black woman to be nominated for a Tony in three consecutive years, and this year she won. Winning Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play for the role of Lutiebelle Gussie Mae Jenkins in Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch, Kara received a standing ovation as she went to accept the award. In her acceptance speech, Kara said, “Thank you to my ancestors, the women who I come from, the people who I come from.” She also paid a touching tribute to her character and to the world: “To the great Lutiebelle Gussie Mae Jenkins who said I’m taking a chance on my life and I’m gonna go—because I have […] a lot of life left in me, she deserved it. And we all do. Thank you. This is to the vibration […] of the liberation for humanity.”

Other women actors who won included Sarah Paulson for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play (Appropriate)—her first Tony nomination and win!—Maleah Joi Moon for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical (Hell’s Kitchen), and Kecia Lewis for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical (Hell’s Kitchen). 

Dede Ayite also made history by becoming the first Black woman to win Best Costume Design, which she won for the play Jaja’s African Hair Braiding. Jaja’s African Hair Braiding centers around the women in a hair braiding salon in Harlem, and Dede’s design expertly combined realism and beauty as she helped bring the play and its characters to life. 

Both Costume Design wins went to women this year, with Linda Cho taking the win for Best Costume Design of a Musical for The Great Gatsby. Both lighting design awards, for a play and a musical, also went to women: Jane Cox won for the play Appropriate, and Hana S. Kim won for the musical The Outsiders

Lastly, Nikiya Mathis won a Special Tony Award, becoming the first Hair and Wig designer to win a Tony. Also an actress, Nikiya has spent her career advocating for inclusivity for Black performers, especially when it comes to hair. Most recently, Nikiya designed the hair and wigs for Jaja’s African Hair Braiding, successfully depicting Black hair at all stages of the braiding process, and celebrating the beauty and meticulous effort of hair braiding. Like the women who braid hair in Jaja’s African Hair Braiding, Nikiya’s hard work and intricate artistry certainly deserves recognition. 

Whether it is their right to wear their hair how they want to or their right to vote, celebrating and protecting the rights of women, and the importance of women, continues to prove necessary. It was great to see this happening this year at the Tonys. Congratulations to the women who made history this year—Shaina Taub, Dede Ayite, Kara Young, and Nikiya Mathis—and to all of the women winners at the 2024 Tony Awards!

© Julia Lasker (6/19/2024) FF2 Media


Read our review of Suffs on Broadway, by FF2 Media’s Taylor Beckman.

Check out Taylor Beckman’s interview with Ada Wistfall, an actor in Suffs at The Public.

Watch Shaina Taub’s Best Score acceptance speech from the Tony Awards.

Watch Kara Young’s Featured Actress in a Play acceptance speech from the Tony Awards.

See Nikiya Mathis accept the Special Tony Award for her work on Jaja’s African Hair Braiding.


Featured photo: Shaina Taub wins TWO awards for Book & Music for Suffs at the 2024 Tony Awards, making history. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Middle photo: This famous photo of Inez Milholland was projected on stage at the end of Act One and stayed up through-out the entire intermission. Jan Lisa Huttner took this photo for FF2 Media on 5/4/24. Authorized for responsible use as long as users include link to THIS post in their photo credits.

Bottom photo: Tony Award-winner Shaina Taub (as Alice Paul) with Jenn Colella (as Carrie Chapman Catt).  Photo Credit: Joan Marcus. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Tags: 2024 Tony Awards, Appropriate, Danya Taymor, Dede Ayite, Hana S. Kim, Hell's Kitchen, Jaja's African Hair Braiding, Jane Cox, Kara Young, Kecia Lewis, Linda Cho, Maleah Joe Moon, Nikiya Mathis, Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch, Sarah Paulson, Shaina Taub, Suffs, The Great Gatsby, The Outsiders, Tony Awards

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As an associate for FF2 Media, Julia writes reviews and features for films made by women. She is currently a senior at Barnard College studying Psychology. Outside of FF2, her interests include acting, creative writing, thrift shopping, crafting, and making and eating baked goods. Julia has been at FF2 for almost 4 years, and loves the company and its mission dearly.
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