Fulbrighter’s Broadway Play "Appropriate" Wins Three Tony Awards

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins at Tony Awards accepting award with cast members for Best Play Revival
(L-R) Sarah Paulson, Carole Rothman, Lisa Lawer Post, Natalie Gold, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Corey Stoll and cast and crew accept the Best Play Revival award for Appropriate onstage during The 77th Annual Tony Awards. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins's Appropriate was named Best Revival of a Play at the 77th Annual Tony Awards, held at Lincoln Center on June 16, 2024. The Tony Award is the crowning achievement for the play, which Jacobs-Jenkins started writing while on his Fulbright to Germany in 2010. This is Jacobs-Jenkins's first Tony and his first play on Broadway. Appropriate also won for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Sarah Paulson), and Best Lighting Design (Jane Cox). Previously, his plays Gloria and Everybody were finalists for the 2016 and 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

The New York Times credited Jacobs-Jenkins with the play’s success despite its difficult subject matter and unsympathetic characters, noting that “Playwrights who show us things we are reluctant to see may have to teach us, over time, how to see it. And we must be willing to have our eyes opened.” 

The success of Appropriate is indeed the culmination of a decade-long effort by Jacobs-Jenkins. Appropriate premiered in 2013 at the Humana Festival of New American Plays in Louisville, Kentucky and went on to Chicago, and Washington, D.C. before moving to New York. Looking back at that period of his life, Jacobs-Jenkins reflects that his “life changed overnight” when the New York Times gave Appropriate a positive review, calling the play “subversively original.” Appropriate and another one of his plays, An Octoroon, received the Obie Award for Best New American Play in 2014. In the intervening years, it has been performed to critical acclaim in Los Angeles and other U.S. cities, as well as internationally in Australia, Germany and the United Kingdom.

Jacobs-Jenkins credits Emmy and Golden Globe winner Sarah Paulson for helping to propel the play to Broadway. During the pandemic-related theater shutdowns, he received a call from producers who wanted to attach high-profile talent to the play to move forward. When Sarah Paulson received the script, she immediately responded that she loved the play and wanted to do it. Jacobs-Jenkins says, “I was just very lucky that it was such a talented and brilliant performer” who signed on.

At the Tony Awards, he also expressed his gratitude to Carole Rothman, who directs Broadway’s Second Stage Theater, and to director Lila Neugebauer, who was nominated for a Tony Award for her work on this production. Rothman had seen the original production of Appropriate, and felt that it fit well with the company’s mission of doing the second production of plays from living writers. In his acceptance speech, Jacobs-Jenkins thanked Rothman for “saying yes after years and years of being told I was too risky, I was too provocative and too not commercial enough.”

Read more about Branden Jacobs-Jenkins: ‘Fulbright is where I was born as a writer’: Tony Award-nominated playwright reflects on his journey to his Broadway debut

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