On Sunday, September 26, a Latino playwright won the Tony Award for Best Play for the first time ever.
Matthew López won a Tony Award for his work on The Inheritance, winning for the year of 2020, which didn’t hold a ceremony. While the Puerto Rican looked overjoyed to have his work acknowledged by the theater community, he decided to use his speech as an opportunity to bring awareness to theater’s under-representation of Latino writers, performers, and producers.
“This is the 74th Tony Awards and yet I am only the first Latiné writer to win in this category. I say that...to highlight the fact that the Latiné community is underrepresented in American theater, in New York theater, and most especially on Broadway,” López said during his acceptance speech. “We constitute 19 percent of the United States population, and we represent about 2 percent of the playwrights having plays on Broadway in the last decade. This must change.”
A self-described “gay Puerto Rican from the Florida panhandle,” López went on to make a plea for inclusion in the world of theater.
“We (Latinos) are a vibrant community, reflecting a vast array of cultures, experiences and yes, skin tones. We have so many stories to tell, they are inside of us, aching to come out,” he said. “Let us tell you our stories.”
Thoughout the night, Matthew saw his play take home four wins out of 11 nominations.
On social media, López’s friends and colleagues couldn’t help but talk about his big moment on stage, thanking him for using his moment in the spotlight to send such an important message.
“Huge congrats to my friend Matthew López on his historic win,” tweeted Gloria Calderon Kellett, a co-creator of the reboot of One Day At A Time. Eric Ulloa, a cast member of Broadway’s On Your Feet! and a playwright, tweeted, “We never get these moments and so I will shout it from the rooftops, a LATIN writer’s play won BEST PLAY OF THE YEAR!!”
The Inheritance was a play about the legacy of the AIDS epidemic (in two parts, running a total of six hours). It premiered in London in 2018, where The Telegraph called it “perhaps the most important American play of the century so far.”
On Broadway, The Inheritance ran from November 2019 to March 2020, closing with the onset of the pandemic.
Following his big win at this year’s Tony Awards, López is working on a new adaptation of the classic Whitney Houston film The Bodyguard.