Jennifer Hudson is in the “Spotlight,” to borrow the title of her 2008 hit. At the 2022 Tonys on Sunday (June 12), Hudson became just the 17th individual to achieve EGOT status. She won as one of a platoon of producers of A Strange Loop, which was named best musical.
At 40 years and nine months, Hudson is the third-youngest person to EGOT. Only Robert Lopez (who was 39 when he completed the awards sweep) and John Legend (who was 39 years and eight months) were younger. Moreover, Hudson is just the third Black EGOT, following Whoopi Goldberg and Legend.
Hudson took her first step toward the EGOT in 2007 when she won an Oscar for best supporting actress for her first feature film, Dreamgirls. She took her second in 2009 when she won a Grammy for best R&B album for her eponymous debut album. (She won a second Grammy eight years later as a performer in a revival of The Color Purple, which won best musical theater album.)
Hudson has never been nominated for a Primetime Emmy, but she received a Daytime Emmy in 2021 as an executive producer of Baba Yaga. The virtual-reality animated film won outstanding interactive media for a daytime program.
Hudson has likewise never been nominated for a Tony Award as a performer. She was passed over for a nod in 2016 her role in The Color Purple. But she won this year as one of 44 individuals or entities who received a producer credit on A Strange Loop.
That’s not a typo (full list below if you find it hard to believe). This points to a problem that has arisen in the EGOT phenomenon – standards are inconsistent from show to show and in some cases too lax. To produce a musical that wins a Tony for best musical, or to co-produce it with a reasonable number of other people, should absolutely count toward EGOT status. But when 44 individuals or entities win as producers, it makes us question how much creative involvement they each could have had.
Hudson is the third performer to EGOT whose only Tony was as one of a group of producers – though the previous groups were modestly-sized compared to A Strange Loop. Goldberg won in 2002 as one of 11 producers of Thoroughly Modern Millie, which was voted best musical. Legend won in 2017 as one of eight producers of August Wilson’s Jitney, which won as best revival of a play.
Maybe there needs to be a limit on the number of producers who can win awards on a given project. It’s hard to pick a number – should it be four, six, eight, 10? I think we can all agree that 44 is too many.
Here’s the thing: There are 25 living people who just need a Tony to become an EGOT. The list includes such top talents as Julie Andrews, Burt Bacharach, Cher, Common, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Randy Newman, Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Martin Scorsese, Barbra Streisand, John Williams and Kate Winslet. Apparently, all they need to do is tell their agents they want to start investing in projects with awards potential. If they have good instincts and connections, one of those projects is bound to win.
This isn’t meant to undermine Hudson’s achievement. The current rules for who wins when a show wins a Tony or an Emmy (or when an album wins a Grammy for album of the year, for that matter) are too lax, but she didn’t write the rules. She absolutely has the talent to become an EGOT as a performer one day. Let’s hope she does.
A footnote: Hudson is the first person who rose to prominence on American Idol to EGOT. She was a contestant in season 3 of that long-running show. That’s one place she didn’t win. She came in seventh. She didn’t let that disappointment stop her.
A Strange Loop won just two awards, fewer than expected. The musical from Michael R. Jackson won the Pulitzer Prize for best drama in 2020.
As promised, here are the Tony-winning producers of A Strange Loop: Barbara Whitman, Pasek, Paul & Stafford, Hunter Arnold, Marcia Goldberg, Alex Levy & James Achilles, Osh Ashruf, A Choir Full Productions, Don Cheadle & Bridgid Coulter Cheadle, Paul Oakley Stovall, Jimmy Wilson, Annapurna Theatre, Robyn Coles, Creative Partners Productions, Robyn Gottesdiener, Kayla Greenspan, Grove Entertainment, Kuhn, Lewis & Scott, Frank Marshall, Maximum Effort Productions Inc., Joey Monda, Richard Mumby, Phenomenal Media & Meena Harris, Marc Platt & Debra Martin Chase, Laurie Tisch, Yonge Street Theatricals, Dodge Hall Productions/JJ Malley, Cody Renard Richard, John Gore Organization, James L. Nederlander, The Shubert Organization, RuPaul Charles, Alan Cumming, Ilana Glazer, Jennifer Hudson, Mindy Kaling, Billy Porter, Page 73 Productions, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Playwrights Horizon.