Tony Award winner Sarah Paulson celebrates her fellow honorees

The actress, who won her first Tony for starring in the play Appropriate, spent her time in the Tonys press room uplifting other Broadway shows and performers.

Gillian Russo
Gillian Russo

On June 16, Emmy and Golden Globe winner Sarah Paulson added a Tony Award to her resume, winning Best Leading Actress in a Play for the family drama Appropriate on Broadway. As she stood before the press shortly after accepting her award, she struggled to find the adequate words to express her excitement.

"I don't feel like I'm in my body right now. I just can't believe it," Paulson managed to say. "This is a childhood dream for me, without question, so it's very hard to meet that moment in front of a lot of people."

It was easy, however, for Paulson to celebrate the other people and shows honored alongside her. Later in the press conference, she was speaking to the importance of theatre: "I don't think it will ever not be vital to our society. I think it's the best way to —"

And she stopped, hearing murmurs ripple throughout the room. While Paulson was speaking, the awards broadcast was still going on, and The Outsiders had just won the coveted Best Musical prize.

"Was that unexpected? It was a dark horse? I love a dark horse!" Paulson enthused. "Because we've been doing the play from this fall, I have been able to see absolutely nothing. So there's been an enormous joy tonight [...] getting to see these musicals, and I can't wait to see every single one of them."

Appropriate, starring Paulson as a woman organizing a not-so-happy family reunion, began performances in November. After a move from the Hayes Theater to the Belasco Theatre due to popular demand, the play finally closes on June 30, so she'll be able to get started soon. Celebrity-led Broadway shows often have limited runs sandwiched within stars' film and TV schedules.

Such was also the case for Paulson's fellow nominees, a who's-who of other A-listers: Rachel McAdams's Mary Jane also closes on the 30th, while Jessica Lange's Mother Play, Amy Ryan's Doubt, and Betsy Aidem's Prayer for the French Republic have all ended their runs. Paulson shared the joy of being nominated alongside them.

"My first job ever in my life was understudying Amy Ryan in The Sisters Rosensweig on Broadway when I was 19," Paulson said. "And then my first real Broadway debut in a non-understudy capacity was opposite Jessica Lange in The Glass Menagerie in 2005 [...] Jessica is a performer I've worked with more than any other.

"I did staged readings with [Betsy Aidem] all the time when I was first acting in New York," she continued. "Rachel I've only met in this time since we've been in this Tony thing together. It's an embarrassment of riches."

Though new star-led shows will come to Broadway next season in place of Appropriate and its peers, Paulson urged everyone to support shows without celebrity talent.

"Stereophonic is a great example of a play that didn't have any well-known people in it, but the play itself sparked the interest," she said of the show that won the most Tonys of the night with five, including Best Play. "I do really believe that if you build it, they will come. If the work is there, and if the material is good, that should be enough."

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Photo credit: Sarah Paulson. (Photo courtesy of The Tony Awards and Getty Images)

Originally published on

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