Upstairs, removed from the bouncing party celebrating his Tony-nominated drama, “Slave Play,” the playwright Jeremy O. Harris cried — out of happiness for his friends who won awards but also frustration with himself for believing he would too.
Mr. Harris’s buzzy, polarizing Broadway debut, in which an imaginary sex therapy retreat for interracial couples is used to examine the legacy of slavery in America, set a Tonys record for nominations — 12, including best play — but didn’t take home any prizes. (The last time a Black playwright won for best play was 1987. This year it went to “The Inheritance,” written by Matthew López, the first Latino writer to win the award.)
Mr. Harris, 32, who developed his play while attending the Yale School of Drama, has secured his place as a shape-shifting cultural voice, or as one partygoer said: “the coolest guy in New York.” He attended Sundance for the premiere of the film “Zola,” which he co-wrote; released a capsule collection; signed a deal with HBO; modeled for Gucci; made a cameo on “Gossip Girl”; smoked a cigarette on the steps of the Met Gala; is set to appear on the next season of “Emily in Paris”; and will bring “Slave Play” back to Broadway in November.
Sipping tequila, dressed in Zegna and Cartier, Mr. Harris held tightly to the hand of his 11-year-old niece, who joined him at the Tonys. He had never expected to win, but for a minute, he imagined it.
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