On May 5, Anika Noni Rose won the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical for her performance as the titular character in Classic Stage Company’s Carmen Jones—but Rose was unable to be there. Currently filming the upcoming Netflix movie Jingle Jangle in the U.K., Rose wrote an acceptance speech just in case. But when the presenters announced her name, no one was able to read it.
Playbill presents Rose’s speech exclusively, which reveals the Tony Award– and Lortel Award-winning actor’s years-long connection to the role that earned her the trophy:
Anybody who knows me knows I hate writing an acceptance speech ahead of possibly receiving something, because, what if it jinxes it! But if you’re hearing this tonight, that tells you two things: 1. I’m out of the country shooting a film, and as hard as I tried, I couldn’t get back there to be with you tonight. And 2: I’ve been judging life wrong for some time, and I’m really glad!
I have wanted to do Carmen Jones my entire career, and to finally do it with this fabulous cast, in this moment was exactly what it should have been. I am so thankful to my agent, Gary Gersh for remembering what my answer was to the question he asked me upon our first meeting, a few years ago: “What have you always wanted to do, but haven’t gotten to?” And calling me the moment he heard Classic Stage had gotten the rights. And to my managers, Kenny Goodman and David Williams, for wholeheartedly supporting me in a job that cut them a MetroCard a week.
And to John Doyle, I am ever grateful that you could see Carmen in me from our first (and only meeting) with my pink hair, blue v-neck sweater, jeans, and a booted broken foot. THAT’S love. Don’t let anyone ever say you don’t have vision!
And to my vocal coach, Edward Sayegh, who took the three months after that meeting and guided me into opera shape. You changed my life, and I am ever grateful.
To every theatre I broached it to in the years leading up to this... thanks for saying no; it landed exactly where it belonged. And, you never know, maybe you’ll get to host us in your space sometime soon—all this opera AND you get to have a surplus in your set budget!
And lastly, thank you to the nominating committee and voters for the Lucille Lortels. This was one of the first places to recognize the work I do as an actor and singer—15 years ago for Caroline, or Change—and it means more than you know that you still see me.
Thank you so much. It’s been really good to be home.