Oklahoma! singer Ali Stroker wins Tony Award – the first wheelchair user in history to receive the honour

10 June 2019, 16:37

By Helena Asprou

While accepting the prestigious prize in New York, the talented performer dedicated her success to disabled children all over the world.

American actress and singer Ali Stroker has made history after becoming the first person in a wheelchair to win a Tony Award.

The 31-year-old star won ‘Best Featured Actress in a Musical’, following her impressive performance as Ado Annie in the Broadway revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s 1943 classic, Oklahoma!.

Hosted by James Corden, the 73rd Tony Awards were held at New York’s Radio City Music Hall on Sunday 9 June to recognise outstanding achievements in Broadway productions over the past year.

After singing a stunning rendition of “I Cain’t Say No”, Stroker was given her award on stage – and she is keen to use her achievement to inspire young children living with disabilities.

She told the audience: “Thank you so much! This award is for 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. You are!”

Ali Stroker and David Perlow attend the 73rd Tony Awards
Ali Stroker and David Perlow attend the 73rd Tony Awards. Picture: Getty

As well as acknowledging the show’s cast, she thanked her “home team – my best friends, who have held my hands and pulled me around New York City for years helping me” and her parents, “for teaching me to use my gifts to help people.”

The win is a significant moment for the actress after a car accident left her paralysed from the chest down when she was only two years old.

Born and raised in New Jersey, Stroker decided to pursue a career in musical theatre after seeing her first Broadway show aged seven.

After training with the Summer Musical Theatre Conservatory programme at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, she made her Broadway debut in 2015 playing Anna in a revival of Spring Awakening.

Ali Stroker celebrates her win for Best Featured Actress in a Musical
Ali Stroker celebrates her win for Best Featured Actress in a Musical. Picture: Getty

Her Tony Award win is a proud moment for disabled people all over the world, who now have a role model in this field. After the event, the actress said: “It makes me feel amazing to be able to be that for them, because I didn’t have that as an 11-year-old girl pursuing this dream.”

She added: “I would ask theatre owners and producers to really look into how they can begin to make the backstage accessible, so that performers with disabilities can get around.”

To celebrate the news, fans of the actress have been sharing their thoughts online:

The 73rd Annual Tony Awards were shown on CBS, Sunday 9 June. All the winners and highlights from the ceremony are available to view on the Tony Awards website.