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In an already thrilling awards season, Black performers made up a third of the honorees at the 2016 Theatre World Awards presented on May 23rd at the Circle in the Square. In its 72nd year, this year’s ceremony recognized British-transfer Cynthia Erivo and “Orange is the New Black’s” Danielle Brooks for their performances in The Color Purple, Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o for Eclipsed, and Khris Davis for The Royale.

Incepted by John Willis in 1944, the annual Theatre World Awards honors six actors and six actresses making their Broadway or Off-Broadway debut in a leading or supporting role, even if the actor has previously appeared in an ensemble or swing role, and is decided by a committee comprised of David Cote (Time Out New York, NY1), Joe Dziemianowicz (New York Daily News), Peter Filichia (Newark Star-Ledger), Harry Haun (Playbill), Matthew Murray (Talkin’ Broadway), Frank Scheck (The Hollywood Reporter), and Linda Winer (Newsday).

Three years older than the prestigious Tony Award, and the oldest award for debut performances On- or Off-Broadway ever, it seeks to encourage wide-eyed newcomers to the industry to continue pursuing their dreams of gracing the stage.

Here is the full list of winners!

Danielle Brooks (The Color Purple), Carmen Cusak (Bright Star), Khris Davis (The Royale),Daniel Durant (Spring Awakening), Cynthia Erivo ( The Color Purple), John Krasinski (Dry Powder), Sarah Charles Lewis ( Tuck Everlasting), Austin P. McKenzie ( Spring Awakening), Lupita Nyong’o (Eclipsed), Mark Strong (A View From the Bridge), Ana Villafañe ( On Your Feet), Ben Winshaw (The Crucible)

Past recipients of the award have included two of this year’s Tony nominees Daveed Diggs (Hamilton, 2014-2015) and Sophie Okonedo (A Raisin in the Sun, 2013-2014), as well as Phillip Boykin (Porgy & Bess, 2011-2012), Audra McDonald (Carousel, 1993-1994), Ben Vereen (Jesus Christ Superstar, 1971-1972), and Harry Belafonte (John Murray Anderson’s Almanac, 1953-1954).


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