Ron Simons, a veteran theatre producer, smiled at everyone as he sat down to eat with Tony Award nominees. The Rainbow Room seemed the right place for the event.

He recalled, “I can assure you that I have never seen so many people of color across all categories of Tony Awards.” It was a diverse audience. It was amazing.

Broadway responded to the conversation about race in America with its first season after George Floyd’s death by presenting one of its most diverse Tony lists yet.

Multiple Black performers were nominated for every performance category. This includes three of the five featured actors in musicals, four of six featured actresses of plays, two of seven leading actors of a play, and three of five leading ladies in a play. Out of 33 slots, 16 Black performers were nominated — an impressive 48%.

Comparatively, 14 of the 40 acting nominations for musicals and plays at the 2016 Tonys (the breakout season that featured the “Hamilton”, “Eclipsed”, and “The Color Purple”) were of color. 35% of the actors nominated were actors of color.

“Let’s pray that Broadway’s diversity continues to be the norm, that this isn’t an anomaly or a blip as a reaction to what’s been through but just a reset,” Lynn Nottage, who was the first writer to be nominated in both a musical (“MJ”) and a play (“Clyde’s”), said.

The new nominees include more women and people of colour in design categories. First-time nominees are Yi Zhao for lighting design of play (“The Skin of Our Teeth”), Palmer Hefferan for sound design of play (“The Skin of Our Teeth”), and Sarafina bush for costume design of play (“for colored girls who have contemplated suicide/when the rainbow is enuf”)

L Morgan Lee, a trans performer from “A Strange Loop”, was also nominated for a Tony. Adam Rigg (scene designer of “The Skin of Our Teeth”) was the first out agender design to be nominated, and Toby Marlow (Six”) co-creator of the show is the first nonbinary composer/lyricist to be nominated.

Eleven performers, including Jaquel Spivey of “A Strange Loop,” Myles Frost from “MJ”, and Kara Young in “Clyde’s,” were nominated for Broadway debut performances. 10 designers also received nominations for Broadway debuts. Creators such as Michael R. Jackson (playwright for “A Strange Loop”) and Christina Anderson (co-book writer for “Paradise Square”) were also recognized.

A.J. said, “I’m very excited about all of the new voices that we’re hearing and all the new writers who are represented Broadway for the first-time,” Shively was nominated as an actor for “Paradise Square”. “I really hope that this trend continues.”

The oldest Broadway play is perhaps the best example of diversity. Sam Gold directs “Macbeth”, which features a Black Lady Macbeth (Ruth Negga), who plays a traditional male role (Amber Gray plays Banquo), and is a non-binary actor, (Asia Kate Dillon), and disability representation (Michael Patrick Thornton).