Latino Tony Winners through the Years: A Retrospective

The Tony Awards nominations were announced today, and we admit we're a bit bummed that no Latinos were nominated this year (except of course the superbly talented Lin-Manuel Miranda, a previous Tony winner who wrote the music for this year's hit Broadway musical Bring It On: The Musical, which was nominated for Best Musical). Congrats to Miranda!

We're proud of our history on the Great White Way; Latinos have as long a history in American theater as we have in movies. Check out our list of former latino Tony nominees below:

1. Tonys: Jose Ferrer

Who: Jose Ferrer
Awards: Best Actor in a Play—Cyrano de Bergerac, 1947, The Shrike, 1952; Best Director, Stalag 17, The Fourposter, The Shrike, 1952.
Ferrer was a one-person tour de force who could do it all—from starring in Shakespeare plays (he was part of a production of Othello that still holds the record for longest-running Shakespeare play in the U.S.) to directing himself to a Tony (The Shrike). He was a consummate actor and the Latino Broadway acting legend.

2. Tonys: Jose Quintero

Who: Jose Quintero
Awards: Best Play (as co-producer)—Long Days’ Journey Into Night, 1957; Best Director—A Moon for the Misbegotten, 1974.
If Ferrer is the Latino stage acting legend, then panameño Quintero is his behind-the-scenes counterpart, who was honored with a theater named in his honor. The director and producer specialized in Eugene O’Neill plays and won both his Tony’s directing or producing the playwright’s work. He is considered the founder of off-Broadway productions, having started the Circle in the Square Theater.

3. Tonys: Rita Moreno

Who: Rita Moreno
Award: Best Actress, Supporting or Featured (Dramatic)—The Ritz, 1974.
Moreno may be most associated with the Anita role in West Side Story movie version, but though Moreno started out in theater, she did not play the feisty chica on stage. Her Tony came with the Googie Gomez role in The Ritz, playing a third-rate entertainer, the opposite of who she was.

4. Tonys: Priscilla Lopez

Who: Priscilla Lopez
Award: Best Actress (Featured Role-Musical)—A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine, 1980.
As a teenager, the Puerto Rican performer was in one of Broadway’s biggest hits, A Chorus Line, but she truly stepped into the spotlight in the comedy Hollywood/Ukraine and her rave reviews helped keep the show on the Great White Way for a year-and-a-half. She later starred in In The Heights.

5. Tonys: Chita Rivera

Who: Chita Rivera (second from right)
Awards: Best Actress (Musical)—The Rink, 1984; Kiss of the Spider Woman, 1993.
Still performing at age 78, Rivera, whose famously long legs and belter’s voice have made her a box-office draw for decades, has had one of the longest and most glorious Broadway careers. But she absolutely shone using her singing and dancing skills in The Rink and beguiled audiences as the mysterious Spider Woman.

6. Tonys: Claudio Segovia and Hector Orezzoli

Who: Claudio Segovia and Hector Orezzoli
Award: Costume Designer—Black and Blue, 1989.
Known for bringing tango and flamenco to Broadway, the Argentine directors, choreographers, set designers and costume designers—partners on and off stage—were nominated in each of their specialties, but nabbed one for their vibrant designs on Black and Blue, a celebration of black dance and music in Paris between the world wars.

7. Tonys: Mercedes Ruehl

Who: Mercedes Ruehl (second from right)
Award: Best Actress (Play)—Lost in Yonkers, 1993.
It seems like everything the Cuban American actress has done has earned a rave review, from 1985’s The Marriage of Bette and Boo to 2008’s The American Plan. But her Tony came when she turned in a masterly performance as a sweet, mentally slow Aunt Bella, who longs for a family of her own in Lost in Yonkers.

8. Tonys: Gerald Gutierrez

Who: Gerald Gutierrez
Awards: Best Director (Play)—The Heiress, 1995; A Delicate Balance, 1996.
He was an actor’s director: Partly thanks to his expert direction, a lot of his lead actors went on to win Tonys of their own. That’s because the Nuyorican director, who later in his career became a director of choice for New York’s famed Lincoln Center Theater, had a knack for getting to the emotional core of a play.

9. Tonys: Wilson Jermaine Heredia

Who: Wilson Jermaine Heredia
Award: Best Actor (Featured Role-Musical), Rent, 1996.
As the cross-dressing Angel, who does a backflip in heels, the Dominican American performer became one of the breakout stars of this instant-classic AIDS musical. With scene-stealing wit and raw emotion, he stole the show every time he stepped on stage.

10. Tonys: Ruben Santiago-Hudson

Who: Ruben Santiago-Hudson
Award: Best Actor (Featured Role-Play)—Seven Guitars, 1996.
The actor and playwright (Lackawanna Blues, which he later adapted as an award-winning HBO film) was the highlight of a short-lived production of the August Wilson play about African American men in the 1940s.

11. Tonys: Robert Lopez

Who: Robert Lopez
Award: Best Score—Avenue Q, 2003.
Nominated this year for The Book of Mormon, the musical whiz kid co-conceived and co-wrote the music for the most irreverent puppet show ever. The show was a smashing success, scoring more than 2,500 performances in its six-year run.

12. Tonys: Sara Ramirez

Who: Sara Ramirez
Award: Best Actress (Featured Role--Musical)—Monty Python's Spamalot, 2005.
She may be best known for her role as Dr. Callie Torres on Grey’s Anatomy, but she first won national attention as the Lady of the Lake in the spoofy Spamalot, where her outsize voice and comic skills made the Mexican American entertainer the breakout star.

13. Tonys: Lin-Manuel Miranda

Who: Lin-Manuel Miranda
Award: Best Score—In The Heights, 2008.
Miranda’s and the show’s story is now the stuff of theater legend: How the Nuyorican conceived the idea for the rap-salsa musical in college; how it became a huge success on Broadway, singlehandedly bringing in young Latinos to theater, many for the first time; how it won just about every theater award and was a Pulitzer finalist. All of it deserved by a show set in a very Latino neighborhood, which told a very Latino story.

14. Tonys: David Alvarez

Who: David Alvarez
Award: Best Actor (Musical)—Billy Elliot, The Musical
Along with two other kids, the Cuban Canadian boy played the kid who loved to dance and pursued his passion even when he others made fun of him. Thanks to his graceful moves and charming portrayal of the boy, Alvarez, a classical ballet student on full merit scholarship at the American Ballet Theater at the time, won rave reviews.

15. Tonys: Karen Olivo

Who: Karen Olivo
Award: Best Actress (Featured Role--Musical)
Her career has been one highlight after another: First the Dominican-Puerto Rican actress and dancer breaks through in In the Heights, she moves on to West Side story, where she plays the untamable Anita, becoming the only person ever to win a Tony for a performance in West Side Story. Next up for Olivo, who had a recurring role in The Good Wife this season: several movies and a comedic play that looks at racial stereotypes in Hollywood.


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