Matthew López Becomes The First Latino Playwright Ever To Win a Tony For Best Play, Pleads ‘This Must Change’
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The Tony Awards were bizarre this year. Not only was there only one person nominated for a Best Actor Tony, and the ceremony was split between streaming and network TV, but a major milestone was achieved. The milestone, however, was bittersweet for much of the Broadway and Latino community.
Last night, September 26th in the year of our Lord 2021, a Latino playwright won the Tony Award for Best Play for the first time ever.
Nuyorican playwright Matthew López won a Tony Award for his work on “The Inheritance”, which won for the year of 2020 (which didn’t hold a ceremony). Although López looked visibly overjoyed to have his work acknowledged by the theater community, he used his speech as platform to bring awareness to theater’s under-representation of Latino writers, performers, and producers.
After giving a shout-out to Miguel Piñero, the first Puerto Rican playwright to be produced on Broadway, Matthew López acknowledged the elephant in the room: that he was the first Latino to ever win the Best Play Tony Award.
“This is the 74th Tony Awards and yet I am only the first Latiné writer to win in this category,” López ended his emotional acceptance speech.
“I say that, not to illicit your applause, but to highlight the fact that the Latiné community is underrepresented in American theater, in New York theater, and most especially on Broadway,” he continued. “We constitute 19 percent of the United States population, and we represent about two percent of the playwrights having plays on Broadway in the last decade. This must change.”
In honor of Matthew López’s incredible accomplishment, here are five other Latino playwrights who are worth knowing.
1. Frida Espinoza Muller
Mexican-born artist Frida Espinosa-Muller wrote, directed, and starred in the play “Ursula: A Border Experience Through the Eyes of a Child.”
2. Adrienne Dawes
Afro-Latina playwright Adrienne Dawes’s plays include This Bitch, Hairy & Sherri, and Teen Dad.
3. Benjamin Benne
Benjamin Benne is Jewish, Guatemalan, and MFA candidate at the Yale School of Drama department. His plays include Alma, In His Hands, and the very bottom of a body of water.
4. Quiara Alegría Hudes
Puerto Rican playwright Quiara Alegría Hudes’s plays have been nominated for multiple Pulitzer prizes. She also wrote the book for a little musical called “In the Heights.”
5. Hector Humberto Amaya
Afro-Honduran playwright Hector Amaya has written over two dozen plays, one of them being Ñ, set in a dystopian future where speaking Spanish is outlawed.
As Matthew López said in his final words before exiting the Tony Awards stage: “We are a vibrant community reflecting a vast array of cultures, experiences, and, yes, skin tones. We have so many stories to tell. They are inside of us, aching to come out. Let us tell you our stories.”
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