Ali Stroker makes history as first person in a wheelchair to win a Tony Award

By Danielle Garrand

/ CBS News

Ali Stroker accepts the Featured Actress in a Musical award for "Rodgers & Hammerstein's Oklahoma!" at the 73rd Annual Tony Awards on Sun., June 9, 2019. Reuters

Performer Ali Stroker made history at the 73rd Annual Tony Awards Sunday night, becoming the first person in a wheelchair to take home Broadway's most coveted trophy. She won the Tony for best performance by an actress in a featured role in a musical for her role as Ado Annie in the revival of Rodgers & Hammerstein's "Oklahoma!"

During her acceptance speech, Stroker took the time to recognize any children at home with a disability who have dreams to be in show business: "This award is for every kid who is watching tonight who has a disability, who has a limitation or a challenge, who has been waiting to see themselves represented in this arena … You are." She also thanked her "Oklahoma!" "family," parents and friends, among others.

Stroker was injured in a car accident at 2 years old and said she's been in a wheelchair since. With an "unbelievable" support system, including her parents, she has been able to pursue her passion after being introduced to musical theater at age 7.

"This award is for every kid who is watching tonight who has a disability, who has a limitation or a challenge, who has been waiting to see themselves represented in this arena. You are." — @alistroker on her historic #TonyAwards [email protected] pic.twitter.com/EdY6wkXFI2

— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) June 10, 2019

"Performing for me has been a moment where I felt like I was my most powerful self, and so I became hooked. I just wanted to be on stage," Stroker told "CBS This Morning" during an interview in May. "Growing up in a chair, I was used to people staring and looking at me, and, you know, that was difficult. And then when I got on stage, people were staring and looking at me for the reason that I wanted, and I felt powerful."

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While she may have made history tonight, she's no stranger to breaking barriers. Stroker was Broadway's first actor in a wheelchair when she made her Broadway debut in the 2015 revival of "Spring Awakening," according to The AP. She is also the first to earn a Tony nomination — for her "Oklahoma!" turn.

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First published on June 9, 2019 / 10:23 PM

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