Dede Ayite, first black woman to win Tony for best costume design

Dede Ayite became the first Black woman to win a Tony for Best Costume Design of a Play at the 2024 Tony Awards.

Although nominated for her work on a few shows, Ayite won for her work on the now-shuttered Jaja’s. African hair braiding.

The show, which opened in October 2023 and closed the following month, takes place in a bustling Harlem salon where West African immigrant hair braiders create masterpiece hairstyles for women local communities in uncertain circumstances that ultimately confront the community with being strangers in a place they call home.

Written by Jocelyn Bioh, at Jaja entered the 2024 Tonys for five awards.

During her acceptance speech, Ayite, also nominated in the same category for her work on Appropriate and in the best costume design of a musical category for Hell’s Kitchen, thanked his family, including his brother who encouraged him from Ghana, and his collaborators. She also thanked Bioh, “who wrote such a beautiful play”, as well as the costume shops and designers, saying of the latter: “without them I wouldn’t be here and the show wouldn’t have been as incredible as it is.”

In the Tony Awards press room, Ayite marveled at her historic win, calling it “huge.”

“People like me who are just starting out and are unsure and scared and just don’t know what it’s going to take, and you don’t know how to find that step to move you forward, so I’m just hopefully that this moment will say, “Keep it up.” You know, tell the stories that matter to you, tell the story that you find value in, and the moment will meet you. That’s what’s happening to me right now. moment.

She added: “It’s not just about me, but we did it: the community that supports me, the community of people who love me every day and cheer me on. For me, I just feel like it’s not just about me right now. It’s the community. It’s because we did it together.

The 2024 Tony Awards ceremony took place at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center in New York.

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