9 Tony and Laurence Olivier Awards Winners And Nominees of Filipino Descent
It's not only Lea Salonga who made us proud in the international theatre scene. Check out other awardees and nominees of Filipino descent who have earned top prizes and acclaim from prestigious award-giving bodies like the Tony and Laurence Olivier awards.
Being the first Filipina to win at the two most prestigious award-giving bodies in the theatre world, Lea Salonga became an inspiration to many other Filipinos and of mixed descent to aspire for greatness on stage. Since her back-to-back win at the Tony's and Laurence Olivier's, there are several personalities as well of Filipino descent who clinched the coveted awards and some who have already been nominated. Check out below the list of names and their notable works or performances.
Jose Antonio Vargas
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and Emmy-nominated filmmaker Jose Antonio Vargas has been a staunch advocate for immigrants' human rights. Fortune included him last 2020 in its "40 under 40" most influential personalities in government and politics. In 2019, he co-produced Heidi Schreck's acclaimed Broadway play What the Constitution Means to Me. With its win at the New York Drama Critics' Circle for compelling storytelling, exploring the theme of immigration in parallel to then current situation during Trump administration, it earned two Tony nominations (for Best Actress in a Play and Best Play). This makes Vargas as the newest addition to this roster of critically acclaimed Filipinos in the global theatre world.
Clint Ramos won Best Costume Design of a Play for his work for Eclipsed in 2006, which featured then-rising star Lupita Nyong'o. Ramos also won nominations recently for the same award for his work for the revival of the musical Once on this Island (2018) and the play Torch Song (2019). At the recent 74th Tony Awards, which covered 2019 to 2020 production seasons due to the sudden closing of Broadway, he received nominations for his works in Slave Play (Best Scenic Design in a Play category) and Rose Tattoo (Best Costume Design in a Play).
There are people who have won awards and earned critical acclaim in the arts and culture scene but there is only 12 who have won top prizes from Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony (dubbed collectively as "EGOT"), and Lopez is one of them. For theatre, Robert Lopez won Best Original Score award for his musical writing work in Avenue Q at the 2004 Tony Awards. Later, he won the same award and the Best Book of a Musical award for The Book of Mormon in 2011. Making him a three-time Tony winner. Just recently, together with his wife Kristen Anderson, he earned a nomination for their stage adaptation and addition of new material for the Disney animated film Frozen that they also have co-written.
Another three-time Tony winner is this Ilonggo Broadway producer who also has a Grammy award in his name for producing the album of the hit musical The Color Purple. Jhett Tolentino's Tony win debut was in 2013 for co-producing the award-winning offbeat comedy Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. He later earned more Tonys for co-producing the revival of the play A Raisin in the Sun and the musical A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, both in 2014. Being the second Philippine-born citizen to receive a Tony and the first to earn accolades from the two prestigious award-giving bodies, Tolentino was awarded by the Malacañan the Pamana ng Pilipino Award.
Though it doesn't show that much with her European beauty, Lena Hall has Filipino blood and she is proud of it. Born as Celina Consuela Gabriella Carvajal with Filipino, Spanish and Swedish descent, the American actress, singer, and songwriter is best known for originating the role of Nicola in Kinky Boots on Broadway and her Tony Award-winning performance as Yitzhak in the 2014 revival of Hedwig and the Angry Inch in 2014. It has become a historic performance for she played both Hedwig and Yitzhak in the same production during the 2016 national tour of the said iconic musical.
For our nominees who are not short of praise and critical acclaim, first on the list is Robert Brill whose scenic designs left Broadway in awe. He got nominated for Best Scenic Design for Assassins in 2004, the revival of Guys and Dolls in 2009, and Ain't Too Proud to Beg: The Life and Times of the Temptations in 2019.
Jon Jon Briones
One of the impressive experiences of Lea Salonga stepping into West End and later conquering Broadway includes the Filipino contingent by her side. With her, Filipino actors were flown into London and New York to fill in the ensemble of Miss Saigon, opening the doors of opportunity for the "American Dream". Pun intended, Jon Jon Briones' stepping into the role as The Engineer (originated by Jonathan Pryce) was iconic in the later seasons of the said musical that he was asked to reprise the role for the 2014 revival in London. A year later, Briones earned a nomination for Best Actor in a Musical at the Laurence Olivier Awards.
Also coming from Miss Saigon is Filipino-American breakout star Eva Noblezada who revived the role of Kim in 2014. After the London season of the said musical, Noblezada top-billed the Broadway leg of it and made her earn a Tony nomination for Best Performances by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical. A year later, she earned another Tony nomination for the same award for Hadestown, which is one of the most sought-after new musicals today. Her participation in Hadestown's musical theatre album earned her a Grammy win for its particular category in 2020.
We know her as the leader in the girl group Pussycat Dolls but Scherzinger has proven time and time again that she is more than that. In 2015, the classically trained pop star earned a Laurence Olivier nomination for portraying the supporting role of Grizabella in the Cats revival in West End.
This article was originally published on July 6, 2021; last updated on September 28, 2021.
- ImagesGetty Images