Ali Stroker Becomes The First Wheelchair-Bound Person To Win Tony Award For Role On 'Oklahoma!'

This past Sunday, the sought after Tony Awards were celebrated and many successful Broadway shows, actors, and screenplays won awards. Ali Stroker, an actress who is on a wheelchair and stars in the Broadway revival of the musical “Oklahoma!”, has won a Tony award making her the first person on a wheelchair to win a Tony Award.

After receiving a standing ovation, this is the speech she gave to the audience

“Thank you, thank you so much. This award is for every kid who is watching tonight who has a disability, a limitation, a challenge, who has been waiting to see themselves represented in this arena.”

The talented actress got her start on the competition show ‘The Glee Project’ back in 2012 and three years later became the first actor to star on Broadway who’s in a wheelchair permanently. To add to that list of firsts, Stroker is also the first wheelchair-bound person to win the coveted award.

Stoker is breaking down barriers, preconceived notions, and glass ceilings with her win and her refusal to give up on her dream of becoming a Broadway star. During the questions with media after winning her Tony Award, Stoker shared when she initially began making appearances in different theaters, there was a serious lack of ramps onto these stages.

She mentioned that for an audience member with a disability to get in and out of the theater, it’s easy because there are ramps readily available for them. The story changes a bit when considering the backstage talent and crew.


“For the [theatre] houses where all the audience comes in, that is all made accessible. But the backstages are not. So, I would ask theatre owners and producers to really look into how they can make the backstage accessible so that performers with disabilities can get around.”

Earlier this year, we shared a story about a young wheelchair-bound girl who after auditioning for the role of Dorothy in her school’s rendition of ‘Wizard of Oz’ — not expecting to even be considered for the role but hoping she would get one of the smaller roles — learned that she'd not only been cast as Dorothy but her therapy dog would be playing the iconic Toto.

Her name is Erin Bischoff and the 17-year-old believes that disabilities need to just be embraced already. People With Disabilities (PWD) shouldn’t only be considered for disability-specific roles should be considered for any and all roles.

In most plays, disabled characters in plays, movies, and shows end up either cured of their ailment or dead. Very rarely do we see a disabled character living their lives despite their condition, but why is that? Diversifying a show goes further than just making sure there is a list of token actors ready to be directed. The change needs to come from within the production and writer’s rooms as well.
Only a person who’s experienced a certain plight can successfully write from the perspective of a marginalized group. Someone who’s able to walk wouldn’t really understand what it’s like to quite literally not be able to get into certain places because there isn’t a ramp available, so why would an able-bodied person be the one creating the script for a PWD?

Media needs to have an overhaul and begin including a large variety of people in all areas but we can't ignore the fact that Ali Stroker’s win proves that PWD are capable of anything!

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