Ali Stroker Becomes First Wheelchair User To Win Tony Award For ‘Oklahoma!’ Role
Among the winners at the 73rd Tony Awards ceremony, Ali Stroker stood out by becoming the first wheelchair user to win the coveted theater award. She also performed last night as part of the Oklahoma! cast.
In her speech, the 31-year-old New Jersey-native dedicated her win to “every kid who is watching tonight who has a disability, who has a limitation or a challenge, who has been waiting to see themselves represented in this arena.” She continued, “You are.”
Stroker won the Best Featured Actress in a Musical for her role as Ado Annie in Oklahoma! The actress, who previously starred on the Ryan Murphy-produced hit TV show Glee, continued her monumental speech by adding, “I’ve been singing since I was seven years old and for me singing is where I have no limitations. It is where I feel most powerful, and my voice and the ability to create music has, I think, really brought me out of all of the hardship that I’ve been through, and it’s brought me here today into my most powerful self.”
Stroker, who stated in her speech that one in five people in the U.S. have a disability, has been paralyzed chest-down since she was two years old due to her involvement in a car crash. Back in 2015, she became the first person in a wheelchair to appear in a Broadway show, as part of the cast of Spring Awakening.
Ava Price, producer of Oklahoma!, told reporters that Stroker was the perfect Ado Annie, saying “It was clear from her humor, her heart, who she is, the way she spoke these lyrics and those lines about what it means to be a strong woman who knows what she wants and can’t say no.”
Oklahoma! is set to run on Broadway until January 19, 2020, after which it will embark on a national tour due to its widespread success and high demand for tickets.