Tony Awards 2019: Elaine May Wins First Major Acting Award at Age 87

elaine may tonys 2019
Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions

The screenwriter and performer channeled her iconic wit in her acceptance speech for Best Leading Actress in a Play.

After more than 60 years in the entertainment industry, Elaine May won her first major acting award at Sunday's Tony Awards, taking home the trophy for Best Leading Actress in a Play for her role in The Waverly Gallery.

"I've never won a nomination for acting before, so I wanna tell you how I did it," May told the crowd, channeling her iconic wit as she accepted the award. "I got in a play written by Kenneth Lonergan. It was about his family, I played his grandmother. My director was Scott Ellis, my producer was Scott Rudin." 

"My family was played by everyone you've ever wanted to be on stage with," the 87-year-old performer continued, paying tribute to the star-studded cast. "Joan Allen was my daughter, Lucas Hedges was my grandson, David Cromer was my son in law and Michael Cera was my only friend. And, at the end of the play, I died. Now, my death was described onstage by Lucas Hedges so brilliantly. He described it, so heartbreaking, he was so touching, that watching from the wings, I thought, 'I'm gonna win this guy's Tony.'"

May began her career as part of the improvisation comedy duo Nichols and May, alongside Mike Nichols. Later in her career, she became an acclaimed screenwriter, penning Academy Award-nominated screenplays for Heaven Can Wait and Primary Colors. She and Nichols also teamed up again for the screenplay to the feature film adaptation of The Birdcage, which Nichols directed.

See more from the 2019 Tony Awards in the video below.