#TonysSoBlack : 'Hamilton' helps diversity sweep theater awards

Leslie Odom Jr. accepts the award for leading actor in a musical for "Hamilton" at the Tony Awards Sunday in New York.

Story highlights

  • The Tony Awards were held Sunday night
  • There were 14 nominees of color

(CNN)"Hamilton" may have failed Sunday night at the 70th annual Tony Awards to clinch the most awards ever won, but the smash-hit musical still helped make history.

    For the first time ever, actors of color won all the acting awards in the musical category.
    Leslie Odom, Jr., Daveed Diggs and Renée Elise Goldsberry took home best lead actor, featured actor and featured actress, respectively, in the musical category for their work in "Hamilton." Cynthia Erivo won best lead actress for her performance in "The Color Purple."
    The success was celebrated on social media with #TonysSoBlack -- a pointed contrast to the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite, which has taken the movie industry to task for its lack of diversity.
    As one person put it: "Forget you, Hollywood. Broadway's where it's at."
    Tonys host James Corden even gave a nod to the #OscarsSoWhite controversy in his opening, when he told the audience to "Think of tonight's show as the Oscars, but with diversity."
    Why is Broadway thriving when it comes to both opportunities for and the celebration of actors of color while the film industry is not?
    "Hamilton" creator and star Lin-Manuel Miranda chalks it up to theater being "one of the last entertainment mediums" where writers of projects still maintain creative control.
    "You go to Hollywood, you sell a script, they do whatever and your name is still on it," Miranda told BroadwayWorld.com last year. "What we protect at the Dramatists Guild is the author's power over their words and what happens with them. It's very cut and dry."
    His play has been hailed for its color-blind casting with its portrayal of historical figures by ethnically diverse actors.
    Sunday's Tony ceremony included 14 nominees of color. In addition to the musical acting winners, Manuel won awards for best book of a musical, best original score and best book of a musical. "The Color Purple," which features a mostly black cast, won best revival of a musical.