Every year, the Tony nominees gather to meet the press and share what's going on in their heads in the week after the nominations were announced. From little theatre kids all grown up to artists celebrating their community, the nominees were filled with expressions of gratitude and joy.
Get to know the 2023 nominees with moments from their interviews and Playbill's portraits. The four-part series continues here, with the nominees from this season's new plays.
READ: Meet the 2023 Tony Nominees from Play Revivals
Stephen McKinley Henderson
"For me, it really is great to see these wonderful young people who are just coming out. And all the fabulous, various talented artists—actors and designers and directors, craftsmen. It's the Broadway community. That's the reward, to know that you're a citizen of the Broadway community."
Henderson is nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play for his role as Pops in Between Riverside and Crazy.
"I wrote the play out of a lot of loneliness and difficulty. And for it be received by others feels like there was a purpose to my life...like I might have made something that was of use to someone outside myself—that's the reward."
Majok's play Cost of Living is nominated for Best Play.
"When we were at The Public and in rehearsals, and I'm like, 'Is this working? Is she too far out there?' Then to be acknowledged like this makes me think, as an artist, don't question yourself. Trust your instincts. Even if you're not acknowledged, trust your instincts. It's so important."
Crawford is nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play for her role as Tedra in Fat Ham.
"[This nomination] means that the country is ready for this kind of radical ambitious, critical, raucous work. It means that our industry recognized the excellence and the ambition of this work. And hopefully, it will be programmed more regionally because of these accolades, so that the conversation that Jordan Cooper was having with his play can happen all over the country."
Walker-Webb is nominated for Best Direction of a Play for his work on Ain't No Mo'.
"The reward is knowing that you are a part of something beautiful, you're a part of something that deserves to be seen, and you are a part of a storytelling community that believes in the power of art."
Lucas-Perry is nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play for her role as Passenger #5 in Ain't No Mo'.
Lucy Mackinnon and Dane Laffrey
Laffrey: "It's always exciting love to be nominated for Tony, but I think this is especially exciting. A Christmas Carol was massive passion project for everyone involved. And it's been closed for a few months. So, we're really thrilled that we were recognized with our entire design team."
Mackinnon: "I was nominated with Dane, but my husband, Ben Stanton, is also nominated as the lighting designer on the same show. So we were able to tell our kids two days ago that we were both nominated. They are very, very excited for us.
Laffrey and Mackinnon are nominated for Best Scenic Design of a Play for their work on A Christmas Carol.
"I'm so proud of everything that I've done in my career. Everything has taught me something that I've moved forward with, and that has helped me to grow. But this feels like, up to this point, the most important work that I've done. It's stretched me and challenged me in ways that I didn't think I was capable of. And it's also just very personally meaningful to me. This is a story about my own family, essentially, my own identity. And I've gone on such a personal journey with it and how I relate to my own Jewish identity. To have it all sort of culminate in this moment is unspeakably meaningful to me."
Uranowitz is nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play for his roles as Ludwig and Nathan in Leopoldstadt.
Jordan E. Cooper
"Every name in every one of those categories are people that I admire and love. Their work just puts my jaw on the floor. So, to be in the same class as them! I cannot wait to do the electric slide, and the hustle, and whatever else we can do together all as a group and just celebrate all the work that everybody's put in there."
Cooper is twice nominated: for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play for his role as Peaches in his play Ain't No Mo', which is nominated for Best Play.
Dominique Fawn Hill and Bradley King
Hill: "I love the surprises and all the secrets that we have within Fat Ham, and I love what we did with it. We took risks and we all dreamed in various different ways."
King: "It is always so much more special to be nominated with your friends and your collaborators who've done incredible generous work. That's what really is hitting home for me today."
Hill is nominated for Best Costume Design of a Play and King is nominated for Best Lighting Design of a Play for their work on Fat Ham.
"It is an honor to do the show, seven shows a week every week. After working on this for over 20 years, here it is. And it's just mind-blowing that something you believe in and stuck with actually happened. So, my advice to anybody out there who loves something, you just stick with it. Stick with it no matter what."
Hayes is nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play for his role as Oscar Levant in Good Night, Oscar.
"It's really just so amazing that I get the opportunity to share this space with so many wonderful artists, including my cast mates, my director, and my playwright from Cost of Living. I'm so excited. I took a red-eye here and I'm the happiest, most tired guy here."
Zayas is nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play for his role as Eddie in Cost of Living.
"It's bittersweet. When they told me, I thought it was a prank. Because we got kicked out! I don't even know how many shows we did. So, I just assumed that the community wouldn't embrace us, because I didn't think we were embraced. So to hear that we were, it was humbling. I was really moved for Jordan, because we put so much work into it. I'm really proud of him. He reminds me so much of myself as a young kid. And there was nobody for me to really push me. So, when I saw the work, I knew that I had to get behind it no matter what."
Daniels is the lead producer for Jordan E. Cooper's Ain't No Mo', which is nominated for Best Play.
Max Webster and Finn Caldwell
Webster: "This show has grown and grown over the years. And I'm really thrilled that the Broadway version is the fullest and most magical version we've made yet. I also think that it's a story of survival. So in the times after COVID, Yann Martel's beautiful novel has found even more relevance for the times we live in right now."
Caldwell: "Ever since I started working in theatre, you hear about the Tonys, and they're always this kind of legend in the background. And working in such an outsider industry as puppetry, to be recognized by the Tony Awards is just extraordinary, like a dream."
Webster is nominated for Best Direction of a Play and Caldwell is nominated, along with collaborators Tim Hatley and Nick Barnes, for Best Costume Design of a Play for their work on Life of Pi.
"We're storytellers, and the idea that people respond to the story you've chosen to tell and want to come and share that with you, that's huge. It's huge. It's live art. So, to have those warm bodies in the house and to see that response every night. That's the reward."
Bonney is nominated for Best Direction of a Play for her work on Cost of Living.
Stephen Adly Guirgis
"It really was a team effort. And to be able to deliver the play across the finish line and get Steve McKinley Henderson more accolades that he so richly deserves. The play, the cast, is mostly our friends; the understudies, mostly our friends. So, it was really a team effort. Everyone feels a bit of ownership for it. So it's even better to be acknowledged like this today."
Guirgis' Between Riverside and Crazy is nominated for Best Play.
"This is the most unbelievable dream come true. Good Night, Oscar is a phenomenal piece of writing. Everybody in that room is extraordinary, the cast, the crew. It's such a joyful experience to make that play."
Hauck is nominated for Best Scenic Design of a Play for her work on Good Night, Oscar.
Saheem Ali and James Ijames
Ali: "It's an honor. It's a celebration of what it means to be part of a community and to have a show that folks have recognized and feel like is worthy of recognition. It's really special."
Ijames: "It feels like a lifelong dream come true. Like being really young and discovering that there was a Tonys and going, 'Oh, maybe that would be a thing that I would like to do one day.' It feels really lovely."
Ali is nominated for Best Direction of a Play for Ijames' Fat Ham, which is also nominated for Best Play.
"The reward is the work. The reward is rehearsal. Rehearsal is the best part."
McDonald is nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play for her role as Suzanne Alexander in Ohio State Murders.
"The reward is acknowledgement, recognition—especially being a performer with a disability where we're so underrepresented in media across the board. Being a part of the wave of authentic casting that's happening is a reward in itself."
Sullivan is nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play for her role as Ani in Cost of Living.
"The reward for me is receiving the feedback and the letters from the audience about how this play is changing their lives. The connection that I feel with the audience every evening, and hearing firsthand how this play has allowed people to face things they've experienced that they had maybe shut down or hadn't realized. [The play] is moving people, and it's changing people's lives in many different ways."
Comer is nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play for her role as Tessa in Prima Facie.