Gay Black Playwright Michael R. Jackson Wins Pulitzer Prize For ‘A Strange Loop’

Black, gay playwright Michael R. Jackson has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for drama for his acclaimed off-Broadway queer musical A Strange Loop.

The musical is a mind-boggling, repetitive and delightfully meta musical, which depicts a Black, gay usher at The Lion King musical — appropriately named “Usher”– struggling to navigate a white, heteronormative world, all while writing a musical about a Black gay usher at The Lion King musical. In real life, Jackson was also an usher at The Lion King musical — Hence the title, A Strange Loop

The show follows in the footsteps of other queer musicals, such as Rent and Fun Home, however Jackson is the first Black writer to win the Pulitzer Prize for a musical theatre work. 

Due to coronavirus shutdowns, the Pulitzer Prize, which also includes $15,000, was announced Monday via an online live-stream. 

Jackson Tweeted of his win: “Never in my wildest dreams. NEVER. IN MY. WILDEST. DREAMS. Thank you to everyone who has supported me on my journey to such an incredible honor. I’m sure I’ll have more to say once I’ve caught my breath and looked at all these text messages and emails but for now, THANK YOU.”

The show ran off-Broadway last year at New York’s Playwrights Horizons, with an original cast recording released in September 2019.

Prior to the coronavirus shutdowns, the show was tapped to head to Washington DC in September this year, drawing speculation of a possible Broadway transfer.

Jackson stated previously in The Washington Post ,“It’s certainly not a secret that I would be thrilled if it would go to Broadway, but there were still some things I wanted to keep working on.”

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Kyle Jackson

Kyle Jackson (He/Him) is Senior Staff Writer at Gray Jones Media, and additionally works as a writer, editor and theatre artist/actor. A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, he studied at Dillard University, received a BA in Theatre from Morgan State University, an MS in Arts Administration from Drexel University, and completed the British American Drama Academy’s Midsummer in Oxford Programme in 2017. Having lived in Baltimore, the Washington, DC area, Philadelphia and New York City, he now resides and works in London, United Kingdom.