Ali Stroker Becomes the First Actor in a Wheelchair to Win a Tony Award
American actress Ali Stroker has become the first actor/person to win a Tony Award in a wheelchair. Dressed in a yellow gown, she won the prestigious award for her performance as ‘Ado Annie’ in the revival of Broadway musical Oklahoma!
On receiving the award, she also earned a standing ovation as she thanked her cast and dedicated her to win all the kids with a disability or a challenge. Ali is also the first actor in a wheelchair to have been cast in a Broadway play. She won under the category of ‘Best Featured Actress in a Musical.’
“I was used to people staring at me, but they were staring at me because I was in a wheelchair. And when I was on stage, they were staring at me because I was the star,” she told a source. “When I got on stage, it was the first time that I felt powerful.”
Stroker was only 2 when she got into a car accident. The car collided with another vehicle and Ali suffered a spinal cord injury. The accident left her paralyzed from the chest to the legs. She was riding with her brother, who suffered a major brain injury.
Ali was only 7 when she watched her first Broadway show and instantly fell in love with acting. It was then and there that she decided to become an actress. Adding to the list of her firsts, Ali earned a degree in Fine Arts from New York University Tisch Drama Department in 2009.
Her first acting job came as a theatre performance in ‘The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee’. With time, she earned more opportunities and established herself as a full-fledged actress. She is best known for starring as herself in an American reality TV series, The Glee Project.
Stroker made her Broadway debut in 2015, in the revival of Spring Awakening. This was the first time an actor in a wheelchair performed on Broadway. She also made appearances in TV shows such as Glee (2013), Faking It (2014-15), Lethal Weapon (2018) and Instinct (2018).
Apart from being an actress, Strokes is also an advocate for anti-bullying programs and campaigns. An anti-bullying campaign named Be More Heroic is founded by her. She is also the co-chairman of an organization called ‘Woman Who Care’ that supports United Cerebral Palsy, in New York.
Stroker believes that considering the fact that one in five American suffers from some kind of disability, it’s high time that disabled people get more chances to perform on stage and films.
"I would ask theatre owners and producers to really look into how they can begin to make the backstage accessible so that performers with disabilities can get around," she said.
More power to you, Ali. May you inspire the world more and more with your talent!