Youngest Tony Award Winners in History

8 Youngest Tony Award Winners in History

Everybody knows what the Oscars are but way fewer people are familiar with Tony Awards. If you are among them, let us explain. To put it simply, Tony Awards can be considered the same as the Oscars but for theatrical performances.

Brock Pemberton was the creator of these types of awards. He was a theater producer and director, who lived in the late 19th century and early 20th century. The first ceremony was held on April 6, 1947, more than 75 years ago.

Throughout the years, several musicals have been awarded the Tony Award. Some of these include Cats, the Cage aux Folles, and The Phantom of the Opera. But some awards are also given to specific actresses and actors.

In this article, we will list the youngest actors and actresses who won this prestigious award. We also decided to include four young artists who were awarded Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theater, as they were not eligible to compete in any of the available categories for the Tony.

4. David Alvarez (May 11, 1994 – Present)

Won a Tony At: 15 Years
Birthplace: Montreal, Quebec
Occupation: Dancer, Actor

David Alvarezphoto source:

David Alvarez was born in 1994 and received his Tony Award at the age of 15.

He was raised in a Cuban family in Canada, specifically Montreal. David was inspired by his mother to pursue a career in theater. She is, in fact, an actress and theater director.

Before his tenth birthday, David and his family moved to California, where he started to take ballet lessons. But his family was bound to move soon again. In fact, in 2005, David received a full merit scholarship to the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at the American Ballet Theater. Because of this, his family had to relocate to NYC.

In 2008, David was broadcasted to play the role of Billy in the Billy Elliot The Musical. He had to share this role with two other young actors: Kiril Kulish and Trent Kowalik. In June 2009, David, Kiril, and Trent won a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical.

Did You Know?

In 2008, David was selected as one of the ten best young ballet dancers to watch by Dance Spirit Magazine.

3. Kiril Kulish (February 16, 1994 – Present)

Won a Tony At: 15 Years and 3 Months
Birthplace: San Diego, California
Occupation: Actor, Dancer, Singer

Kiril Kulishphoto source:

Kiril Kulish was born in February 1994 and received his Tony Award at the age of 15.

He was raised in San Diego, in a Jewish family who had just migrated from Ukraine. Kiril grew up in a polyglot family where Ukrainian, English, and Russian were commonly spoken.

He began to practice dance when he was only five starting with ballet. Kiril was incredibly talented and was awarded first place in Latin Ballroom at the USA National Dance Championships, in both 2006 and 2007.

A year later, he was chosen to play the part of Billy, in Billy Elliot The Musical. It was thanks to this role that he won the Tony Award for Best Actor In A Leading Role in a Musical together with the other two boys who played the same character in the musical.

After his acting debut, Kiril was selected to play several roles in different movies and television shows.

For instance, in 2009 he was chosen to perform the main role in The Nutcracker. Later on, in 2016, he also took part in the 22nd season of Dancing with the Stars.

Did You Know?

Kiril has two siblings who are also working in the art scene. His brother, Victor, is a songwriter and singer, while his sister, Beata, is a TV and film producer.

2. Trent Kowalik (February 22, 1995 – Present)

Won a Tony At: 14 Years and 3 Months
Birthplace: Wantagh, New York
Occupation: Actor, Singer, Dancer

Trent Kowalikphoto source:

Trent Kowalik was born in 1995 and is among the youngest Tony winners in history.

He was born in Wantagh, New York, and started to take Irish dance classes at the age of four. Two years later, he was already competing at the highest level. Trent soon proved himself to be extremely talented in this discipline, winning several awards both in Ireland and abroad. In fact, he held the title of World Champion for five years in a row!

Trent made his acting debut in 2007 with the musical Billy Elliot The Musical at the Victoria Palace Theater of London. He played the role of Billy, together with other three actors. In 2009, he won the Tony Award For Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical. This was the first time the award was given to more than one performer at the same time. 

Did You Know?

Trent was born in a musical family. In fact, his mom was an organist and pianist.

1. Frankie Michael (May 5, 1955 – 30 March, 2016)

Won a Tony At: 9 Years
Birthplace: Bridgeport, Connecticut
Occupation: Actor, Singer

photo source:

Frankie Michael was the youngest actor ever to win a Tony as he received this award at the age of only 11.

In 1966, Frankie was awarded a Tony for Best Featured Actor in a Musical. He earned the award by playing the role of Patrick Dennis in the musical Mame.

Both before and after receiving his Tony, Frankie appeared on several tv shows. Some of these include Our Private World, As the World Turns, and The Joey Bishop Show.

But he was also extremely good at singing. In fact, Frankie’s voice can be heard in the theme song for the Little Miss America pageant composed by Gladys Shelley.

Later in his career, in 2010, he also sang ‘My Best Girl’ during a tribute to Angela Lansbury, a famous Irish-British and American actress. This was an original song from the musical Mame, and he performed it during the 2010 Drama League Gala.

Did You Know?

In 2013, three years before his death, Frankie worked for United Radio Service in East Syracuse.

Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theater

4. Bailey Ryon (May 20, 2002 – Present)

Won a Tony At: 11 Years
Birthplace: Southern Pennsylvania
Occupation: Actress

Bailey Ryonphoto source:

Bailey Ryon is an actress from Southern Pennsylvania.

She started her career in the theater playing Cindy Lou Who in the Broadway production How The Grinch Stole Christmas. This was a theatrical adaptation of the book with the same name written by Dr. Seuss.

Bailey is particularly known for having performed in the role of Matilda in the Broadway Show Matilda the Musical. She acted in this role from March 2013 to January 2014.

Thanks to this position, Bailey won a Tony Honors for Excellence in Theater, together with the other child actresses who played Matilda in the musical.

Did You Know?

Bailey is now studying musical theater at James Madison University.

3. Milly Shapiro (July 16, 2002 – Present)

Won a Tony At: 10
Birthplace: Tampa, Florida
Occupation: Actress, Singer

photo source:

Milly Shapiro was born in Tampa in July 2002 and received her Tony Award at the age of ten.

She attended the Community Montessori School till the age of 10 when she moved to NYC to pursue a career in acting. But her singing and acting career started way before that.

Milly began to take singing classes at the young age of three inspired by her sister. She started acting just two years later.

When she moved to NYC, Milly was chosen for the role of Matilda together with other young actresses and won a Tony for this position soon afterward.

After this experience, Milly started to perform at a series of cabarets, and concerts to support the Anti-Bullying Movement.

Throughout her career, she also got the chance to act in a movie, Charlie in Hereditary.

Did You Know?

Milly declared that she likes to play with her dogs, watch anime, and read in her free time.

2. Oona Laurence (August 1, 2002 – Present)

Won a Tony At: 10
Birthplace: NYC
Occupation: Actress

Oona Laurencephoto source:

Oona Laurence was born in August 2002 and won her Tony award when she was just ten years old.

Before playing the role that earned her a Tony, Oona was active in several regional theater productions playing minor roles. She also acted in a few short movies and tv episodes. 

Oona auditioned for the role of Matilda the Musical in 2012, landing the role. She performed in this role from March 4, 2013, to December 15, 2013.

After getting a Tony for this position, Oona started to act in movies. She appeared in several films, ranging from I Smile Back, Damsel, Lamb, and Southpaw.

In more recent years, Oona became the voice for a few characters in the Cartoon Network series Summer Camp Island. You can also hear her voice in the opening song.

In 2020, Oona also acted in an American family horror movie by Netflix known as A Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting.

Did You Know?

Oona has two sisters who also work as actresses: Aimée and Jeté.

1. Sophia Gennusa (October 20, 2003 – Present)

Won a Tony At: 9 Years
Birthplace: Westchester County, New York
Occupation: Actress

Sophia Gennusaphoto source:

Sophia Gennusa was the youngest actress to win a Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theater at the age of 9 years.

This young actress is particularly known for her performance in the Broadway production of Matilda the Musical. She was given the role of Matilda Wormwood, which earned her a Tony Award for Excellent in Theater in 2003 at the young age of 10. She shared her Tony with three other actors: Oona Laurence, Milly Shapire, and Bailey Ryon.

After her success with Matilda, in 2015, Sophia performed in the musical Doctor Zhivago at the Broadway Theater. She now performs in benefit concerts and cabarets. If you have kids, you may have also probably heard her voice on Sesame Street. In fact, since 2016, she has been the singer of its theme song.

In 2015, Sophia also sang on an episode of Last Week Tonight by John Oliver.

Did You Know?

Sophia is currently living in Westchester County with her parents.

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