Ali Stroker's win for her role as Ado Annie in Oklahoma! at the 73rd annual Tony Awards was definitely a moment in history.
Stroker is the first actress who uses a wheelchair to win a Tony Award.
However, a major logistical snag in how she accepted her award puts the Tonys just left of breaking down the correct barriers.
"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," said Stroker, accepting her award.
Ali Stroker Wins Best Featured Actress In A Musical At The 2019 Tony Awards youtu.be
THANK YOU @ALISTROKER 🙌🏻🙌🏻🙌🏻 my sweet wheeliechair using 6-year-old was SO excited to see you win a #tony tonight!… https://t.co/GOX4SWVDro— Erin Raley Hinson (@Erin Raley Hinson)1560129993.0
While the poignance of this moment is not to be ignored, there was a major issue here: there was no ramp for Stroker to get on stage.
As such, later on in the program, when Oklahoma! won Best Revival Of A Musical, Stroker was not able to get up on stage with the rest of the company and accept the award.
Oklahoma! Wins Best Revival Of A Musical At The 2019 Tony Awards www.youtube.com
Many across social media are pointing out that this is a perfect example of ableism—discrimination against people with disabilities.
Something that needs to be addressed: Ali Stroker was the only cast member of Oklahoma! that was not on stage to ce… https://t.co/8irjgSLzeJ— brianna (@brianna)1560141485.0
So happy Ali Stroker won. Pissed that she had to sit back stage, separated from the audience, because the Tonys wou… https://t.co/tppUM5EipZ— amanda! (@amanda!)1560130006.0
Ali Stroker’s #TonyAwards2019 win marks the first time a wheelchair user has won a Tony Award (she was also the fir… https://t.co/Zqp6PQteeA— Mandi Eatough (@Mandi Eatough)1560135010.0
Ali Stroker being the first wheelchair user to win a Tony, but there being no ramp for her to get on stage is maybe… https://t.co/itO344EUpc— Claire Forrest (@Claire Forrest)1560183491.0
Ali Stroker just became the first wheelchair user to win a Tony. They didn’t bother building a ramp to the stage, f… https://t.co/34moowRX3h— Katie Pennick (@Katie Pennick)1560168773.0
In order to get on stage to accept the award and also to join in her cast's performance of "Cain't Say No/Oklahoma!" Stroker was forced to wait in the wings and then be wheeled on stage.
But Stroker, in an interview with The New York Times, says it is not uncommon for theaters to have no accessibility options whatsoever for people with disabilities.
"I would ask theater 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.
👍🏻🎉🥳 when Ali Stroker won the Tony for featured actress in a musical and gave a badass acceptance speech 👎🏻💔🤬 when… https://t.co/iDwtasHSZ5— Shannon Dingle (@Shannon Dingle)1560156272.0
#Tonys if you knew Ali Stroker was going to win (which she deserves) why didn't you give her a ramp so she could ac… https://t.co/SJy2l87DLj— Zoso (@Zoso)1560249426.0
Wait, was there no ramp for Ali Stroker to get on stage? #TonyAwards2019— Matthew Cortland, esq (@Matthew Cortland, esq)1560130445.0
Ali Stroker was the first actor in a wheelchair to win a #TonyAward and they didn’t have a ramp. When I got my PhD,… https://t.co/DkPzt9d9Kj— Jennifer Dolan (@Jennifer Dolan)1560191565.0
sorry I didn’t hear you I was too busy thinking about the fact that the Tony Awards knew Ali Stroker was a nominee… https://t.co/eDAVXGpxMJ— Alexandra Niforos (@Alexandra Niforos)1560198703.0
There's a theme today on #DisabledTwitter, and rightly so. Us: Yay, Ali Stroker won an award! Whooot! Also us: Wh… https://t.co/W7akyW5gQo— Cait Gordon 👽🍰♿️ (@Cait Gordon 👽🍰♿️)1560193510.0
As per The Huffington Post:
"The slap in the face Stroker received at the Tony Awards is a reminder that society still treats the needs — and civil rights — of people with disabilities as an afterthought."
@PhillyD Last night, Ali Stroker was the first wheelchair user to win a Tony award, but the Tony’s did not have a r… https://t.co/CrQdtB4f5T— Denise Remy (@Denise Remy)1560181808.0
last night, Ali Stroker was the first person in a wheelchair to win a Tony. ...and couldn't accept it on stage, be… https://t.co/rolRA2nFFi— Justin Martin (@Justin Martin)1560175417.0
April 30: Ali Stroker nominated for #TonyAwards. Six weeks later, @RadioCity a theatre that builds entire sets in d… https://t.co/ghK8p9ct8r— Dorothy Ellen Palmer ♿ (@Dorothy Ellen Palmer ♿)1560167176.0
That a disabled actor winning #TonyAwards is a fluke they don't expect to happen again. That you must be abled to w… https://t.co/7q1I7xcDWu— Dorothy Ellen Palmer ♿ (@Dorothy Ellen Palmer ♿)1560167696.0
Any time any abled artist agrees to mount any stage without a ramp, they are collaborating in the ableism that resu… https://t.co/SDvhSO2Z3i— Dorothy Ellen Palmer ♿ (@Dorothy Ellen Palmer ♿)1560168098.0
the fact that no one made any kind of ramp for ali stroker, who had to be brought backstage just to be able to acce… https://t.co/z1W4v7qAY6— mckelvey (@mckelvey)1560137293.0
The 2019 Tony Awards committee, the American Theatre Wing, Actor's Equity Association and all entities associated with the Tony Awards have yet to comment on the lack of a ramp for Stroker.
Hopefully the 2020 Awards will be much more well thought-out with equal access for all.