Cynthia Erivo has won the Tony Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical for The Color Purple. Even in the year of Hamilton, Erivo stood out with her star-making lead role in the revival of the musical based on Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. (The Color Purple also won best revival of a musical on Sunday.)
Erivo thanked Oprah, Walker, director John Doyle, and the cast. “To every single person in my cast you are magnificent. Thank you so much for lifting me up when I’m tired, for holding my hands when I’m happy, for kissing me on my forehead when I just need some love.”
Erivo plays Celie, a young girl in the who suffers all the horrors of sexism and racism before finally coming in to her own. “Erivo’s portrayal of that transformation is remarkable,” Jesse Oxfeld wrote in EW’s A-review of The Color Purple. This transformation is demonstrated in the showstopping number “I’m Here,” which Erivo performed on The Late Show in May.
The 29-year-old British actress beat out Hamilton‘s Phillipa Soo, Waitress‘ Jessie Mueller, She Loves Me‘s Laura Benanti, and Bright Star‘s Carmen Cusack for the win.