On June 9th, 2019, Different & Able contributor Ali Stroker made history as the first performer in a wheelchair to receive a Tony Award for her role as Ado Annie in this year's Broadway revival of Rogers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma!
At the young age of two Ali was involved in a car accident and as a result was left paralyzed from the chest down. As a child, Ali felt frustrated that her identity revolved around her disability. Becoming a performer offered her a new identity of which she was in control. She started performing professionally at age eleven. Stroker attended Ridgewood High School, where she was senior class president and starred in a number of school musicals. She trained with the Summer Musical Theater Conservatory program at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, New Jersey. In 2009 she graduated with a degree in Fine Arts from the New York University Tisch Drama Department.
This is not the first time the actress has made history. In 2005, she was the first actress in a wheelchair to appear on Broadway when she originated the role of Ana in Deaf West’s acclaimed 2015 revival of Spring Awakening. Ali is also a humanitarian and tireless advocate for making Broadway more accessible. She is the co-chair of Women Who Care, an organization supports United Cerebral Palsy of New York City, as well as a founding member of Be More Heroic, an anti-bullying campaign which tours the country connecting with thousands of students each year.
Learn more about this incredible woman's philosophy by reading Ali's essay "Hosting Your Own Party," or following Ali's adventures on twitter and instagram at @alistroker.