‘U’ alum wins Tony award, attributes success to Detroit upbringing

Monday, June 10, 2019 - 12:31pm

Celia Keenan-Bolger, a graduate of the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre & Dance, won the Tony award for best featured actress in a play.

Celia Keenan-Bolger, a graduate of the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre & Dance, won the Tony award for best featured actress in a play. Buy this photo
Carter Fox/Daily

At the 73rd Annual Tony Awards on Sunday night, Celia Keenan-Bolger, a graduate of the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre & Dance, won the Tony award for best featured actress in a play. Keenan-Bolger was recognized on account of her performance as Scout Finch in “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Aaron Sorkin’s 2018 adaptation of the 1960 novel by Harper Lee. Keenan-Bolger has been performing the role of Scout on Broadway since December 2018.

Keenan-Bolger is a Detroit native. In her acceptance speech, she highlighted how this influenced her performance in a show about race.

“I have love the theater since I was five years old growing up in Detroit, Michigan,” Keenan-Bolger said. “I grew up in a neighborhood where my grandparents had a cross burned on their front lawn because they were being welcoming to black families who were integrating the neighborhood. They raised my mother and her siblings alongside those families, and when my mother met my father, instead of moving to the suburbs, they raised me and my siblings in that same neighborhood.”

This was Keenan-Bolger’s third Tony nomination, but her first win. She said it was “incredibly moving” she was recognized for her role of Scout Finch, whom she called “the greatest literary heroine of all time.”

Keenan-Bolger told CBS, “I really can’t quite believe my life,” following the win.