5 ways the 2015 Tony Awards were better than the 2015 Oscars

The Tony Awards.

A rare lull in the action at the Tonys. Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images.


Too often dismissed as the Oscars' overeager, desperate-to-please little brother.

Indeed, as John Travolta famously taught us, even Broadway's most luminous stars barely even register as a blip on Hollywood's radar.

Mufphx Blzagosephinszj, according to Hollywood. Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

But this needs to change immediately. Why? Because this year, little bro finally came into his own. And when it comes to rewarding exciting, diverse talent and telling stories that really matter, the Tony Awards are eating big brother's lunch.

Though it may be hard to believe, the 2015 Tony Awards proved conclusively that Broadway is better than Hollywood, and the Tonys would beat the Oscars in a cage fight 9 out of 10 times. Scientifically speaking, of course.

Here's how.

1. Of the 12 creative awards handed out at the Tonys, seven were won by women.

Marianne Elliott, winner for Best Direction of a Play. Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images.

Including some of the biggest awards of the evening, like Best Direction of a Play and Best Original Score.

Not only is Hollywood seriously lagging behind in this arena, it's barely in the race.

2. A musical by two women, based on a graphic novel by a woman, that looks frankly at sexual identity, same-sex relationships, and suicide won the evening's top prize.

Image by Jere Keys/Flickr.

If you haven't seen "Fun Home," stop what you're doing and get on a plane/bus/hovercraft/scooter to New York right away. Also, 11-year-old Sydney Lucas' performance on the telecast was one of the best things of all time ever.

3. A play featuring an autistic protagonist won the award for Best Play.

Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images.

"The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" basically swept the non-musical awards, winning for Best Play as well as Best Leading Actor in a Play, for Alex Sharp's sensitive, nuanced, human portrayal of Christopher, a 15-year-old boy on the autism spectrum.

Neurodiversity FTW!

4. Best Actor in a Musical winner Michael Cerveris called on the Supreme Court to recognize everyone's freedom to marry in his acceptance speech.

Photo by Janette Pellegrini/Getty Images.

"If [Theater Educator of the Year] Corey Mitchell can teach his students to be their pure, wonderful selves, I hope that all of us can do that for everybody in our lives and across the country, and I hope the Supreme Court can recognize that too."
— Michael Cerveris

5. And Best Book of a Musical winner Lisa Kron reminded everyone that Broadway had its best year ever, not despite the fact that it told interesting, diverse stories from new perspectives, but because it did.


Lisa Kron (left), winner for Best Book of a Musical. Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images.

"This has been the most successful season in Broadway history because all of us have been going into all of these amazing rooms in our house where we live together that we haven't been in before. You guys, our house is so big.

Please, let's not all just go back into the living room."
— Lisa Kron


As Kron wisely pointed out in her speech, this year's Tonys were a step forward, even for Broadway.

Broadway played it safe for a long time. It wasn't even that long ago that, much like the Oscars, the Tonys were a total dude party.

As fun as this looks, no one likes a total dude party. Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images.

But this year was Broadway's most financially successful year ever. And it did so by producing more diverse work, with more women in creative and directorial positions, and without compromising on challenging storytelling.

Compared to the movie industry, Broadway is a tiny drop in the bucket. But if Broadway can change, so can Hollywood.

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Some 75 years ago, in bombed-out Frankfurt, Germany, a little girl named Marlene Mahta received a sign of hope in the midst of squalor, homelessness and starvation. A CARE Package containing soap, milk powder, flour, blankets and other necessities provided a lifeline through the contributions of average American families. There were even luxuries like chocolate bars.

World War II may have ended, but its devastation lingered. Between 35 and 60 million people died. Whole cities had been destroyed, the countryside was charred and burned, and at least 60 million European civilians had been made homeless. Hunger remained an issue for many families for years to come. In the face of this devastation, 22 American organizations decided to come together and do something about it: creating CARE Packages for survivors.

"What affected me… was hearing that these were gifts from average American people," remembers Mahta, who, in those desperate days, found herself picking through garbage cans to find leftover field rations and MREs to eat. Inspired by the unexpected kindness, Mahta eventually learned English and emigrated to the U.S.

"I wanted to be like those wonderful, generous people," she says.

The postwar Marshall Plan era was a time of "great moral clarity," says Michelle Nunn, CEO of CARE, the global anti-poverty organization that emerged from those simple beginnings. "The CARE Package itself – in its simplicity and directness – continues to guide CARE's operational faith in the enduring power of local leadership – of simply giving people the opportunity to support their families and then their communities."

Each CARE Package contained rations that had once been reserved for soldiers, but were now being redirected to civilians who had suffered as a result of the conflict. The packages cost $10 to send, and they were guaranteed to arrive at their destination within four months.

Thousands of Americans, including President Harry S. Truman, got involved, and on May 11, 1946, the first 15,000 packages were sent to Le Havre in France, a port badly battered during the war.

Thousands of additional CARE Packages soon followed. At first packages were sent to specific recipients, but over time donations came in for anyone in need. When war rations ran out American companies began donating food. Later, carpentry tools, blankets, clothes, books, school supplies, and medicine were included.

Before long, the CARE Packages were going to other communities in need around the world, including Asia and Latin America. Ultimately, CARE delivered packages to 100 million families around the world.

The original CARE Packages were phased out in the late 1960s, though they were revived when specific needs arose, such as when former Soviet Union republics needed relief, or after the Bosnian War. Meanwhile, CARE transformed. Now, instead of physical boxes, it invests in programs for sustainable change, such as setting up nutrition centers, Village Savings and Loan Associations, educational programs, agroforestry initiatives, and much more.

But, with a pandemic ravaging populations around the world, CARE is bringing back its original CARE packages to support the critical basic needs of our global neighbors. And for the first time, they're also delivering CARE packages here at home in the United States to communities in need.

Community leaders like Janice Dixon are on the front lines of that effort. Dixon, president and CEO of Community Outreach in Action in Jonesboro, Ga., now sends up to 80 CARE packages each week to those in need due to COVID-19. Food pantries have been available, she notes, but they've been difficult to access for those without cars, and public transportation is spotty in suburban Atlanta.

"My phone has been ringing off the hook," says Dixon. For example, one of those calls was from a senior diabetic, she remembers, who faced an impossible choice, but was able to purchase medicine because food was being provided by CARE.

Today, CARE is sending new packages with financial support and messages of hope to frontline medical workers, caregivers, essential workers, and individuals in need in more than 60 countries, including the U.S. Anyone can now go to carepackage.org to send targeted help around the world. Packages focus on helping vaccines reach people more quickly, tackling food insecurity, educational disparities, global poverty, and domestic violence, as well as providing hygiene kits to those in need.

From the very beginning, CARE received the support of presidents, with Hollywood luminaries like Rita Hayworth and Ingrid Bergman also adding their voices. At An Evening With CARE, happening this Tuesday, May 11, notable names will turn out again as the organization celebrates the 75th Anniversary of the CARE Package and the exciting, meaningful work that lies ahead. The event will be hosted by Whoopi Goldberg and attended by former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter, as well as Angela Merkel, Iman, Jewel, Michelle Williams, Katherine McPhee-Foster, Betty Who and others. Please RSVP now for this can't-miss opportunity.

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The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.

Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash

The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."

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