Remember a little reality show called The Glee Project? The Oxygen network competition served as an audition for the FOX musical dramady series Glee, with a prize of a minimum seven episode arc in the following season of the show. Glee executive producer Ryan Murphy presided over the competition, which aired for two summer seasons in 2011 and 2012.
As it turns out, the runner-up of season 2, Ali Stroker, made history Sunday night (June 9) by becoming the first actress in a wheelchair to win a Tony Award. Stroker won best featured actress in a musical for her performance as Ado Annie in the revival of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!. Stroker was paralyzed from the chest down after she was injured in a car accident at two years of age.
Watch her Tonys performance of “I’m Just a Girl Who Can’t Say No” below.
“This award is for every kid who is watching tonight who has a disability, who has a limitation or a challenge, who has been waiting to see themselves represented in this arena — you are,” she said in her inspiring acceptance speech. Watch it below.
After competing on The Glee Project, Stroker appeared in the “I Do” episode of Glee season 4 playing Emma Pillsbury’s confident niece, Betty Pillsbury. She also had a role in the Deaf West revival of Spring Awakening in 2015-2016 and appeared in a 3 episode arc on the MTV series Faking It (which starred American Idol alum Katie Stevens)
Bonus Video: Ali Stroker sings “Popular” from Wicked as her last chance performance on the Glee Project season 2 finale. Blake Jenner won the competition and went on to a major role on Glee. Note how bland his performance is to Stroker’s by comparison.