Shaina Taub and Dede Ayite Make History, and Other Memorable Moments From the 2024 Tony Awards | Playbill

Tony Awards Shaina Taub and Dede Ayite Make History, and Other Memorable Moments From the 2024 Tony Awards

Plus, a number of people got bleeped out during the telecast, including one F-bomb.

Shaina Taub and Dede Ayite

As the festivities for the 77th Annual Tony Awards are winding down, Playbill is gathering some of the takeaways from the evening. From history-making women to Tony attendees having some fun with profanity, here were some memorable moments of the 2024 Tony Awards.

Shaina Taub Heather Gershonowitz

Shaina Taub, Dede Ayite, Kara Young, and Nikiya Mathis Make History

This season was a historic one for women, as more female directors were nominated for Tony Awards than any other ceremony in history. And so it was fitting that a number of women made history tonight. Suffs' Shaina Taub became the first woman to win for both Book of a Musical and Score (with no co-writing credits, as was the case for earlier trailblazers Bella Spewack and Betty Comden). In her post-win chat with Playbill, Taub discussed how her win was a sign that "there's a place for us female creators."

But Taub wasn't the only one making history. Dede Ayite, who had three Tony nominations in the same ceremony for her costuming, reflected on her win for Best Costume Design of a Play (for Jaja's African Hair Braiding), sharing that she was the first Black woman to win for costume design. "That, I'm hoping, inspires other younger designers to know when it feels impossible, even when they're unsure, to just keep moving forward," she tells Playbill.

Earlier, before the broadcast, Nikiya Mathis made history when she became the first hair and wig designer to win a Tony Award with her special Tony win. Kara Young also made history as the first Black woman to be nominated for a Tony Award in three consecutive years—and the audience in the David H. Koch Theater got on their feet when the third time became a charm and she won.

Cody Spencer Heather Gershonowitz


Look, The Tony Awards aren’t really a family show explicitly. But with much of the broadcast being on network TV, you can usually bet on no profanity. Not at this year’s Tony Awards! The first major example came with The Outsiders’ Cody Spencer, who won Best Sound Design of a Musical. Early in his acceptance speech, he dropped an F-bomb in the phrase, "I can't believe I'm crying in front of so many fucking people." Pluto TV shortly cut out the feed for the rest of his speech! In the backstage press room post win, when asked what he said for the rest of his speech, he answered: "I don't know what part of my speech got cut off! I was crying, and all my friends, people I love and trust, were staring at me and I couldn't believe it was happening. And I totally forgot I was on an award show. I'm really grateful to be standing here, receiving this. There's some hard work in this show to to make it happen. And we did something special, that I don't think you see going to every provincial show, I'm just really excited that I'm here for this. So thanks!"

But Spencer was only the beginning. Billy Porter got a “shit” out while accepting his Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award.

There was a bleep during Merrily We Roll Along’s performance of “Old Friends.” Won’t someone please think of the ****ing children?

Kara Young Heather Gershonowitz

Spotlight on Dads

This year's Tonys coincided with Father’s Day, and our newest Tony winners made sure we didn’t forget! Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Daniel Radcliffe, and Kara Young were all among this year’s winners who gave special shout-outs to their dads, not only for supporting them in their now Tony-winning careers, but for being great dads!

Young may win the mantle of Best Daughter along with her Tony, because she brought her dad along with her to the ceremony. Host Ariana DeBose even went and found him in the audience later on in the broadcast!

Sarah Paulson and Branden Jacobs-Jenkins Heather Gershonowitz

Thanking Broadway's Overlooked Workers

While winners frequently thanked their families, directors, and partners, others took time to express gratitude for some unsung heroes behind the scenes. "I want to thank the ushers and the front of house staff who who see me walking in every day looking like I've just been run over by a truck, and and see me walk out looking somehow even worse, with bits of pretzels in my hair," Jeremy Strong said while accepting Best Lead Actor for his performance in An Enemy of the People

Best Lead Actress winner Sarah Paulson also took time to recognize those working offstage while accepting her award for Appropriate. "To our front of house and back of house crews at both theatres, we could not do this without you," Paulson said. 

Jane Cox, who took home Best Lighting Design for Appropriate, paused to thank her behind-the-scenes collaborators. "I also want to thank all the associates on all the shows—especially Bailey Costa, Betsy Chester, and my co-pilot of 15 years, Tess James," Cox said. 

And Stereophonic's Will Brill, who received the award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical, had a few special people to thank: "I wouldn't be here without my therapist, Rachel Terty, and my bass teacher, Robbie Seahag Mangano," Brill said in his acceptance speech.

Members of Stereophonic Heather Gershonowitz

Calls to Action

Even though it was an evening of celebration and entertainment, the attendees did get serious at some key moments. A number of Tony winners talked about the current tough climate for the arts. Stereophonic playwright David Adjmi, in his acceptance speech for Best Play, said: "It's really hard to make a career in the arts. We need to fund the arts in America, it is the hallmark of a civilized society. I want to dedicate this to the artists out there.”

Adam Greenfield, the artistic director of Off-Broadway's Playwrights Horizons, also spoke during the Best Play acceptance speech (Playwrights Horizons premiered Stereophonic): "Every play nominated in this [Best Play] category tonight came from an Off-Broadway theatre. Playwrights Horizons stands very proudly among our peers. And if a culture of risk taking new work is important, then we need the support of our city to maintain that."

During her first acceptance speech of the evening, for Best Book, Taub urged audiences to vote in the 2024 Presidential Election, saying: “If you are inspired by the story of the show, please make sure you and everyone you know have registered to vote, and vote, vote, vote.” Later, in her second acceptance speech (for Best Score), she added: “When we organize, when we come together, we are capable of making real change for equality and justice.”

Click here for the full list of winners, and visit for all things Tony Awards. 

Photos: 2024 Tony Award Winners

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