J. Harrison Ghee’s performance in Broadway’s Some Like It Hot earned rave reviews — and a Tony Award win — after the characterization was partially informed by the actor’s real life.
“It means everything to be able to come into a room and a creative space and bring yourself and your truth into the work and let that inform it,” Ghee, 34, exclusively told Us Weekly at the American Theatre Wing’s fall gala on Monday, September 11. “To really be effective in the artistry and the ministry that I’m doing, it means everything.”
Ghee — who is nonbinary and uses he/she/they pronouns — stars as Jerry/Daphne in Some Like It Hot, which premiered in December 2022 based on the 1959 film of the same name. The production follows two Prohibition-era musicians, played by Ghee and Christian Borle, after they are forced to flee town when they witness a mob hit. With gangsters hot on their heels, they go undercover in drag. Ghee’s Jerry quickly finds the experience to be transcendent.
“It was such a process and collaborative in the way of always having conversations,” Ghee previously said in an Instagram video shared via the Some Like It Hot account in May. “There were often times I would come in during the workshop and during the rehearsals for Broadway and things I say in my everyday life found their way into the script.”
The Broadway star further characterized Jerry as a “grounded artist” with big dreams, whose friendship with Borle’s Hoe is based “in love and in truth and in experience.”
Ghee’s Some Like It Hot role earned them their first Tony Award nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical. The honor marked the first time that a nonbinary actor had been nominated in that category. Ghee won the trophy during the awards show in June.
“So many things went through my head [when they called my name] but I was just so happy that I could share the moment with my mom, who was my date,” Ghee told Us on Monday. “[And] give her her flowers and show her how she’s made a difference in the world through her child.”
Nearly three months after the Tonys, Ghee still marvels at the coveted trophy on a daily basis. “It’s on a shelf above my TV,” the actor revealed at the Broadway benefit. “Every day [I look at it and], I’m like, ‘Ah, it’s right there!’”
In addition to being a Tony-nominated performer, Ghee is also making waves with their impeccable wardrobe selections.
“I go in my closet and I play,” they quipped to Us of making style decisions. “I literally make time to play in my closet and just say, ‘What is the vibe today? How do I feel?’ and come into whatever it is for the day and just let it find itself.”