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Jodie Comer wins a Tony for her first ever performance on a professional stage

Jodie Comer poses in the press room during The 76th Annual Tony Awards.
Cindy Ord
/
Getty Images for Tony Awards Pro
Jodie Comer poses in the press room during The 76th Annual Tony Awards.

It's safe to say that picking up the Tony for best lead actress in a play is not a case of beginner's luck.

Who is she? The 30-year-old British actress who hails from Liverpool is best known for her performances on screen, starring in shows like Killing Eve, My Mad Fat Diary, and movies like Free Guy and The Last Duel.

  • She's best known for her role in Killing Eve, where she plays a deadly assassin named Villanelle.
  • In April, she took to Broadway to perform the lead role in Suzie Miller's critically acclaimed drama, Prima Facie. This was after a stint in London last year, performing the same role.
  • What's the big deal? Comer's one-woman depiction of Tessa, a lawyer defending men accused of sexual assault, was her first ever performance on a professional stage.

  • The story follows Tessa, highly successful in her field and defense of her clients, as she herself becomes a victim of sexual assault.
  • Comer received high praise all around, for a performance that critics called atour de force
  • Plus, competition was fierce this year, as Comer was up against Jessica Chastain in her much-buzzed-about performance in A Doll's House, as well as other seasoned actors like Jessica Hecht and Audra McDonald.

  • Want more on actors? Listen to Consider This in conversation with Michael J. Fox on his battle with Parkinson's.


    What's she saying?

    Here's some of Comer's acceptance speech at the awards Sunday night:

    I want to thank Justin Martin, my director, for his relentless pursuit for discovery and for instilling in me a trust within myself, constantly reminding me to trust myself.

    She also thanked the playwright behind Prima Facie:

    This woman and this play has been my greatest teacher, and I have to thank Suzie Miller for that, who wrote this magnificent piece. Without her, my performance would not be here, so this feels just as much Suzie's as it is mine.

    Plus, Comer spoke with NPR's Juana Summers back in April ahead of her Broadway debut. Here are some highlights from that conversation:

    On the physical experience of acting in the play:

    It was definitely a challenge. But it was also incredible. I think it really fed into this fact that Tessa was in control of every element of this storytelling. 

    And that was what really struck me when I first read the piece. You know, I'd explored material before that deals with sexual assault, but it was never told in this manner. And I felt like she had so much control over the narrative.

    On portraying intense moments within the story:

    I always remember that part of the play — you literally feel the entire audience holding their breath. Like, I'm always struck in that moment by the silence in the room. What I loved about it and what I will say and what I think about, again, the power of the play is that you don't see the perpetrator. 

    You don't see Julian. You don't see the physical assault take place. But it's all about language and stillness and her telling you what it is that she's experiencing. You know, it's incredibly intimate and exposing. And I think the way in which the assault is depicted is very rare. And I think in a way, that's what makes it all the more powerful.

    So, what now?

  • Comer will continue her role in Prima Facie through July 2.
  • Learn More:

  • 6 takeaways from the 2023 Tony Awards
  • When your demographic clone tells their secrets, are they telling yours, too?
  • These were the most frequently performed plays and musicals in high schools this year
  • Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    Manuela López Restrepo
    Manuela López Restrepo is a producer and writer at All Things Considered. She's been at NPR since graduating from The University of Maryland, and has worked at shows like Morning Edition and It's Been A Minute. She lives in Brooklyn with her cat Martin.
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