During the Tony Awards on Sunday night, Denée Benton, an accomplished actress known for her Tony Award-nominated performance in “Natasha, Pierre, & The Great Comet of 1812,” took the stage as a presenter. However, her remarks deviated from the anticipated script, as she resorted to a tired trope by comparing Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to a Ku Klux Klan leader. This latest instance of politically charged commentary at the prestigious theater event once again targeted conservatives, showcasing the ongoing divide within the industry.
— The Hollywood Reporter (@THR) June 12, 2023
According to the Daily Wire:
“Earlier tonight, [Carnegie Mellon University] and the Tony Awards presented the 2023 Excellence in Theatre Education Award, and while I’m certain that the current grand wizard — I’m sorry, excuse me — governor of my home state of Florida, I am sure that he will be changing the name of this following town immediately,” she continued, as she mentioned the town of Plantation, where award-winner Jason Zembuch Young is a public school theatre director.
The New York City audience laughed at Benton’s characterization of DeSantis, just as a similar Tony Awards crowd cheered in 2018, when actor Robert DeNiro strode to the microphone and declared, “I’m gonna say one thing. F*** Trump.”
“It’s no longer ‘Down with Trump,’” he yelled. “It’s f*** Trump,” eliciting another giant cheer.
Governor DeSantis has faced criticism from the Left due to his firm opposition to the inclusion of Critical Race Theory in public school curricula. This theory, which posits that blacks are always victims and whites are oppressors, has been a contentious topic. A significant development occurred in April 2022 when the Florida Department of Education discovered that 41% of math textbooks being considered for schools contained content related to Critical Race Theory, Social Emotional Learning, or other prohibited subjects. These findings further emphasize the ongoing debate surrounding the educational approach and content in Florida’s public schools.