Black stars win big at 2013 Tony Awards

theGRIO REPORT - For only the second time in history, black actors took home four of the eight major acting awards...

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

Sunday was a big night for black stars at this year’s Tony Awards.

For only the second time in history, black actors took home four of the eight major acting awards.

Veteran actor Courtney B. Vance won the first Tony Award of the night, for best performance by an actor in a featured Role in a play, for his role in Lucky Guy.  This is Vance’s first Tony win. He was nominated for best featured actor once earlier in his career for his roles in Fences (1987) and best actor once for Six Degrees of Separation (1990).

Cicely Tyson, who returned to Broadway this season for the first time in three decades, took home her first Tony at age 79.  The legendary actress won best leading actress in a play for her role in Horton Footes’s The Trip to Bountiful.

Patina Miller won for best actress in a musical for her lead role in Diane Paulus’ Pippin.  Miller was previously nominated for best actress for her lead role in Sister Act (2011).

The Tony Award for best actor in a Musical went to Billy Porter for his role as a drag queen in Kinky Boots.  This was Porter’s first Tony nomination. The Harvey Fierstein and Cyndi Lauper show also took home the night’s top prize of best musical.

Producer Ron Simons’ Tony win for best producer added to the four acting Tonys won by African-Americans this year. Simons won the award for his work on the play Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.

Overall, this year proved to be a successful year for African-Americans in theater.

Indiewire reports, aside from the five winners, there were six additional nominees of African decent, who did not win their individual categories.

“What I love about the theater is that we can celebrate differences. It was nice to see women and men of color winning these awards,” Tony Award winner Patina Miller told the Wall Street Journal. “It also gives people who look like me, and younger artists that maybe don’t think there’s a place for them in the theater, the courage to one day do this.”

Follow Carrie Healey on Twitter @carrieheals