Since Shucked's first performances in March, Alex Newell has been garnering mid-show standing ovations for their solo "Independently Owned." Their performance in the new "corny" comedy musical earned them the 2023 Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical, making them the first openly non-binary actor to receive a Tony Award. In an interview on ABC's The View, Newell talked about looking up to trailblazers of the entertainment industry like Nell Carter, but Newell has certainly made history as a trailblazer of their own.
"I've heard that I was too fat, I was too sassy, I was too Black, I was too much, I was too loud, I was too flamboyant—and those are my things that make me special," said Newell. "You have to be 100% unabashedly yourself and have the gall to do that," they said.
In a way, Newell's character in Shucked somewhat mirrors their own journey, reflecting that idea of being confidently self-led and unafraid to be themselves. Lulu the standout of the town, as most of Shucked's characters are relatively laid-back while Lulu is fiercely independent—and everyone loves her for it. Her show-stopping ballad highlights her pride in being "liberated, calculated, educated, underrated, motivated, advocated, intimidating," but despite her assertion that she's "independently owned," the character also deeply cares for her community, as do the rest of the characters in Shucked.
"[Shucked] has such a message of being together, and I think we're missing a lot of that right now in our climate. We're missing the togetherness, we're missing the camaraderie of loving another person no matter what their creed or background is," says Newell.
Watch Newell's full interview on The View above, and see their onscreen performance of "Independently Owned" in the video below.