Glee Star Makes History As First Wheelchair User To Win At The Tonys

Photo: Kristina Bumphrey/StarPix/Shutterstock.
Ali Stroker, a former Glee Project contestant, made history at the 2019 Tony Awards when the Oklahoma star took home the award for featured actress in a musical.
Stroker, who is paralyzed from the waist down following a car accident as a toddler, became the first wheelchair user to win a Tony Award. She scored the Tony for her portrayal of Ado Annie, a flirtatious woman who must choose between two men in a small town in Oklahoma.
In her acceptance speech, Stroker talked about the importance of representation.
“This award is for every kid who has a disability, a limitation or a challenge who has been waiting to see themselves represented in this arena,” Stroker said, later thanking her partner David Perlow for "believing in every part" of her career.
Annie's big number, "I Can't Say No," is a fun and energetic song in which Stroker uses her wheelchair to move around the stage.
"Not a lot of people have seen someone use a wheelchair the way I do," Stroker explained to The Los Angeles Times ahead of her win. "I have been in my chair since I was in an auto accident when I was 2 years old, so the way I move is very organic. The wheelies are an unpredictable movement I use throughout the show and on purpose. I compare it to someone doing a dance movement. How I move in my chair is one of the most thrilling parts for me of doing this revival."
Prior to appearing in Oklahoma, Stroker appeared on Broadway in the 2015 revival of Spring Awakening. The NYU musical theater graduate became the first wheelchair user to appear on the Broadway stage with the revival, which also featured a cast that included many hearing impaired actors.
Outside of Broadway, Stroker had TV roles on shows like Ten Days In the Valley, Faking It, and Drunk History. Given her Tony win, however, Broadway will probably want to keep her around for quite some time.

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