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
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.
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.
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."
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.