Joaquina Kalukango appeared on the June 22 broadcast of Today to talk about her experience at the 2022 Tony Awards, where she took home the award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical for her role in Broadway's Paradise Square. At the ceremony, she also brought the house down with an emotional performance of "Let it Burn" from the musical, resulting in a standing ovation.
Directed by Moisés Kaufman and choreographed by Bill. T. Jones, the show opened April 3. The work takes place during the Civil War and tells the story of Irish immigrants and Black Americans fighting for a similar cause.
"It was the first time I was able to see the audience. Usually there are blinding lights when we perform. To feel that space of 6,000 people and to feel all [of] that love and support, [and] energy coming at us, was overwhelming," Kalukango says to hosts Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager about the performance.
She continues to open up about attending the ceremony with her mother and sister. "They have nurtured me and cared for me my whole life, so to share that with the people I love the most, to honor them in that time, was so important to me. I'm so grateful. I feel like the luckiest person in the world."
Watch the full interview below.
Paradise Square also features Chilina Kennedy, John Dossett, Matt Bogart, Kevin Dennis, Nathaniel Stampley, A.J. Shively, and Sidney DuPont in its 40-member ensemble cast.
The show features staging by Alex Sanchez; music supervision, direction, and orchestrations by Howland; scenic design by Allen Moyer; costume design by Toni-Leslie James; lighting design by Donald Holder; sound design by Jon Weston; and projection design by Wendall K.