NEW ORLEANS — The nominees for the 2023 Tony Awards are out.
New Orleans's own Wendell Pierce is on the list.
He got the nod for his leading role in Death of a Salesman on Broadway.
Pierce called his nomination “joyous and humbling.”
“You can see I’m still crying,” Pierce told WWL-TV. “I was thinking about this. This is my life’s work coming to a zenith, coming to the high point.”
Pierce is the first African American in a long list of distinguished actors to play the burned-out salesman Willy Loman in the Arthur Miller classic on Broadway.
It’s something he talked about a year ago as he was preparing for the role.
“The play is about how the American Dream can be a failure for so many people. You put that through the lens of the African American experience, and you realize how even more destructive it can be.”
Pierce says a nomination like this is something he could only dream of as a young boy growing up in Pontchartrain Park.
“I’m looking back thinking of him, sitting on the edge of his bed about to go to school when I know I can do it, I know I can do it, just work hard and so here we are Wendell, good old Wendell.”
Pierce dedicated his nomination to today’s young people fighting through a crime crisis in the city.
He singled out Calcea Johnson and Ne'kiya Jackson from St. Mary’s Academy who found a way to prove the Pythagorean Theorem using trigonometry and 16-year-old Dennis Maliq Barnes who received more than $9 million in college scholarship offers.
“They’re from New Orleans. They’re young black kids like I was. Celebrate them. New Orleans, celebrate them.”
Pierce admits going into Death of Salesman, he worried his best days as an actor were behind him.
With his Tony nomination, he sees a bright future ahead in TV, film and the theater.
“To have an impact like that is profound not only on you as an artist, but also as a man. So, my best days are not behind me yet. They’re still ahead.”
You can watch the Tony Awards broadcast on WWL-TV, on June 11.
► Get breaking news from your neighborhood delivered directly to you by downloading the new FREE WWL-TV News app now in the IOS App Store or Google Play.