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Get Involved: A Call to Action about the Representation of Women at the Tony Awards

Get Involved: A Call to Action about the Representation of Women at the Tony Awards

On June 7th, when girls across the country turn
on the Tony Awards, what do you want them to see?

This is the question we’re posing to the Tony Awards
Management Committee and CBS in a petition urging them to include the
presentations of the awards for Best Book and Best Score of a Musical in this
year’s telecast. For those who haven’t been watching the Tony Awards, these
categories are not regularly included in the broadcast. Something else that’s
been regularly missing from the Tony Awards are women being represented as the
creators of Broadway shows. This year, there’s a chance to show that women can
write Broadway musicals by showing two female faces in the field of nominees
for Best Book and Best Score: Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori for “Fun Home.”

As stated in the petition, “Women have struggled
to break through the glass ceiling in the world of Broadway, and, even in 2015,
the ratio of women to men is nowhere near equal. An area that is especially
disproportionate is the number of female composers that have had shows on
Broadway. In the history of the Tony Awards, only thirteen women have been
nominated in the Best Original Score category as composers
, and
out of those thirteen, only about half are primarily identified as composers for
the theatre. Further, only one female composer [Cyndi Lauper] has ever won the award for Best
Original Score, and only one female composer [Jeanine Tesori] has ever been
nominated for this award more than once
. Comparatively, in the last twenty years alone, there have been ten
male composers to receive multiple nominations in this category.” 

How do we expect girls to pursue these
fields when they do not see themselves represented in them? How do we expect girls to
know their worth when they don’t see the accomplishments of other women being
validated? 

Across the entertainment industry, it’s
been shown that stories by and about women not only make money, but also excite
the cultural dialogue. Perhaps more people would tune in to the Tony Broadcast if
they saw a more accurate representation of our country and had the opportunity
to see women making history. (If Jeanine Tesori wins for Best Score, it will be
the first time a female composer from a theatre background wins).

The first step towards change is
acknowledging that there’s a problem and then doing what’s in our power to fix it.
To girls watching at home, showing female nominees on television is something
we can do to help fix the problem. Ten minutes of airtime can mean a lifetime
of change. 

Please see the full text of the letter
to the Tony Committee and CBS below. To add your name to the petition, please
click here.

On June 7th, when girls across the country
turn on the Tony Awards, what do you want them to see?

We want them to see that women can write
musicals, and we think an important step in achieving this is that
the Tony Awards broadcast the categories of Best
Original Score and Best Book of a Musical this year
.

Women have struggled to break through
the glass ceiling in the world of Broadway, and, even in 2015, the ratio of
women to men is nowhere near equal. An area that is especially disproportionate
is the number of female composers that have had shows on Broadway. In the
history of the Tony Awards,
only
thirteen women have been nominated in the Best Original Score category as
composers
, and out of those thirteen only about half are
primarily identified as composers for the theatre. 

Further, only one female composer has ever won the award for Best Original Score,
and only one female composer has ever been nominated for this award more than
once
. Comparatively, in the last twenty years alone there have
been ten male composers to receive multiple nominations in this category. Only
four musicals written entirely by women have been nominated for Best Musical,
and the last one was in 1991. A whole generation has never seen a musical
written by women nominated for Best Musical.

This year there is
a chance to show girls that someone who composes and writes a Broadway musical
can look like them.

Studies, particularly those done by the Geena
Davis Institute for Gender in Media, have shown that there’s a direct
correlation between seeing a woman doing a job and greater interest and
engagement in that subject from girls in school. Seeing representation
normalized on TV has shown a great effect in encouraging girls to pursue areas
that have traditionally been male dominated.

No matter who wins on Tony night, it is
important for viewers to see women nominated as composers, lyricists, and
bookwriters.
In an age when girls are
constantly bombarded with media images of women as victims or underdogs, the
Tony Awards should celebrate women succeeding, leading, and changing the
narrative of who creates Tony-nominated Broadway musicals
.

While we believe the Best Original Score and
Best Book of a Musical categories should be broadcast every year, we feel this
year is especially important because
when
you have the opportunity to make a difference in the aspirations and futures of
51% of the population, there is a moral imperative to do it
.
People need to see change happening in the biggest spotlight available to the
theatre industry, and girls need to see what is possible.

Sign the petition here.

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