Where Michigan Ranks Among States Producing Recent Tony Award Winners

Fact Checked by Thomas Leary

The Tony Awards, honoring the best of Broadway, were held Sunday, June 11. It’s a night dedicated to recognizing achievement in the theatrical arts.

And in recent years, Michigan has produced some of the best that the American stage has to offer. In the past 10 years, three natives of the Great Lakes State have taken home Tony Awards.

So we took a break from analyzing Michigan sports betting to look at the achievements of these leading lights of the Broadway theater hailing from the state.

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Tony Award Winners By State

State No. of Winners
New York8
New Jersey5
South Carolina2
North Carolina1
New Mexico1
Rhode Island1

How We Arrived At This List

Using the Tony Award Winner master list, BetMichigan determined how many Best Actor/Actress (in Leading, Feature, Musical, and Play subcategories) awardees hailed from each state from 2013 to 2023.

Michigan tied Maryland and Pennsylvania with three major Tony Award winners each. That was good for a share of fifth place, behind leader California (11 winners), New York (8), Illinois (6) and New Jersey (5).

The home of Michigan sportsbook apps is also the home of some truly talented actors. Audiences have enjoyed them over the years, not only on the live theater stage but in other forms of entertainment.

Michigan-Born Tony Award Winners

David Alan Grier, 65, was born in Detroit and, for many, is perhaps best known as one of the stars of the seminal sketch comedy show In Living Color from 1990-94. But his exploits on Broadway have been drawing attention, and Tony Award nominations, for decades.

The University of Michigan graduate (who also earned a master’s at Yale) was nominated for a Tony Award in 1982 for his first starring role on Broadway, as baseball legend Jackie Robinson in The First. Grier was nominated for major Tony Awards twice more in the 2010s before finally winning in 2020 for A Soldier’s Play. Grier took home the award for Best Featured Actor in a Play for his portrayal of Sgt. Vernon C. Waters.

Like Grier, Celia Keenan-Bolger was born in Detroit and graduated from UM. Keenan-Bolger, 45, was named Best Featured Actress in a Play in 2019 for a production of To Kill a Mockingbird, starring Jeff Daniels. She played Scout Finch in the Broadway version of the classic Harper Lee novel and was the only win for the play among nine nominations in various categories.

Keenan-Bolger had been nominated three previous times for Best Actress including in 2014 for The Glass Menagerie.

Courtney B. Vance, who holds degrees from Harvard and Yale, makes it a trio of Motor City natives to wind up taking home Tony Awards. Vance, 63, has been in dozens of films, both for cinema and television, including The People v. O.J. Simpson, for which he won the 2016 Emmy Award as Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie.

His night of Tony Award glory came in 2013 when he took home the honor as Best Actor for his role in Lucky Guy. Vance portrayed James “Hap” Hairston in the production, which was notable for being Nora Ephron’s final play (it was produced months after her 2012 death) and for being the vehicle for Tom Hanks’ Broadway debut.


Jim Tomlin writes and edits for BetMichigan.com. In 30 years as a journalist he has worked for publications such as the Tampa Bay Times, Saturday Tradition, Saturday Down South and FanRag. He now lends his sports and gambling expertise to BetMichigan among other websites.

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