PARADISE SQUARE’S Joaquina Kalukango Wins Tony for Best Leading Actress In a Musical

Tony Awards

Joaquina Kalukango wins the Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical as presenters Danielle Brooks and Cynthia Erivo look on| Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images

Jordanna Brody
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June 12, 2022 10:45 PM

Somebody buy a round at Nelly’s saloon! Joaquina Kalukango has won the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical for her outstanding performance as Nelly O'Brien in Paradise Square. The talented actress was crowned the winner at the 2022 Tony Awards on the stage of Radio City Music Hall. Kalukango beat out a star-studded category that included Sharon D. Clarke for Caroline, or Change, Carmen Cusack for Flying Over Sunset, Sutton Foster for The Music Man, and Mare Winningham for Girl from the North Country.

Kalukango made her Broadway debut in Godspell, and later appeared in Holler If Ya Hear Me, The Color Purple, and Slave Play. Her film and television credits include One Night in Miami… and Lovecraft Country. She was previously nominated for a Tony Award for her performance in Slave Play.

The musical follows the Black and Irish communities living in harmony in NYC’s Five Points neighborhoods during the 1860’s. Set mostly in a saloon owned by Nelly O’Brien, Paradise Square offers a slice of Civil War history not often explored—but one worth remembering.

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Jordanna Brody

Originally from South Florida, Jordanna Brody graduated from Emerson College with a BFA in Theatre Education and Performance in 2019. Her experience teaching, performing, directing, and working behind the scenes informs her perspective on theatre in every way. She is passionate about uplifting marginalized voices and innovative theatrical experiences.