Two gender “non-binary” Broadway performers — J. Harrison Ghee and Alex Newell — earned Tony Award nominations on Tuesday, with both being recognized in male “actor” categories even though neither identifies that way.
J. Harrison Ghee, who is a biological male, stars in the musical Some Like It Hot, playing the Jack Lemmon role from the original movie. Gee, who uses “he/they” pronouns, is nominated in the best actor in a musical category.
Alex Newell, also a biological male, appears in the female role of Lulu in the musical Shucked. Newell, who uses “he/she/they” pronouns, has identified as a male in the past, describing himself as “a little black gay boy from Massachusetts” in a 2016 interview. However, Newell has worn women’s clothes in recent public appearances, and is dressed as a woman on his official Twitter account photo.
In a recent interview with Variety, Newell explained why he chose to be considered as an “actor” as opposed to an “actress” for Tony consideration.
“I went based off the English language. Everyone who does acting is an actor. That is genderless,” he said.
Here’s a little answer to a burning question! https://t.co/zwDuXTtEaj
— Alex Newell (@thealexnewell) April 26, 2023
Earlier this year, “non-binary” actor Justin David Sullivan — who stars in the Broadway jukebox musical & Juliet — rejected eligibility for the Tony Awards, saying traditional acting categories need to be reconsidered to become more “inclusive” of gender non-conforming actors.
Broadway has seen an influx of transgender and non-binary performers in recent years.
As Breitbart News reported, the long-running musical Chicago cast male-to-female transgender performer Angelica Ross in the lead role of Roxie Hart, who is not transgender. The recent Broadway revival of the classic musical 1776 featured a cast comprised entirely of women, transgender, and “non-binary” actors.
Last year, A Strange Loop star L Morgan Lee became the first transgender actor to receive a Tony nomination.
This year’s Tony Awards are scheduled to air on CBS on June 11. The annual broadcast has struggled for years with low ratings, hitting an all-time low of just 2.6 million viewers in 2021 before bouncing slightly last year to 3.9 million.
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