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Ali Stroker (born June 16, 1987) is an American actress and singer. She is the first actress who uses a wheelchair for mobility to appear on a Broadway stage, and to be nominated for and win a Tony Award. Stroker was a finalist on the second season of The Glee Project, and later appeared as a guest star on Glee in 2013. She played the role of Anna in Deaf West's 2015 revival of Spring Awakening.[1] She won the 2019 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for her performance in Oklahoma![2]

Ali Stroker
Born (1987-06-16) June 16, 1987 (age 32)
Alma materNew York University
OccupationActress
Years active2011–present

Contents

Early lifeEdit

Stroker grew up in Ridgewood, New Jersey with her parents, Jody Schleicher and Jim Stroker, as well as an older brother, Jake, and a younger sister, Tory. She attended Ridgewood High School, where she was senior class president and starred in school musicals.[3]

At the age of two Stroker was in a car accident that resulted in a spinal cord injury that left her paralyzed from the chest down. Because she is unable to walk, she uses a wheelchair. At the age of seven Stroker saw her first Broadway show and decided to become an actress.[citation needed]

Stroker trained with the Summer Musical Theater Conservatory program at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, New Jersey.[4]

In 2009, Ali became the first actress who uses a wheelchair to earn a degree from the New York University Tisch Drama Department, with a degree in Fine Arts.[5]

CareerEdit

Stroker has had solo performances at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and New York's Town Hall in addition to concert performances at Lincoln Center in New York City.[6]

Stroker starred in the Paper Mill Playhouse's production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. She later reprised her role in this show at Philadelphia Theatre Company and that performance earned her a Barrymore Award nomination.[7]

In 2011 Stroker made an appearance in the short film, I Was a Mermaid and Now I'm a Pop Star.[8] In 2012 she auditioned for The Glee Project and was cast for the 12 episode series. She made it to the final episode and placed second, earning a guest role on Glee, playing Betty Pillsbury, Ms. Pilsbury's niece, in Season 4, Episode 14 "I Do".

In 2014 she had a role in the film Cotton alongside Gary Cole. In 2014 and 2015 Stroker had a three episode role playing Wendy in the MTV series, Faking It.

In 2015 she made history by becoming the first Broadway actress who uses a wheelchair to appear on a Broadway stage. She originated the role of Anna in Deaf West's 2015 revival of Spring Awakening.[9]

In 2017 Stroker was cast as Tamara in the ABC show Ten Days in the Valley.[10]

In 2018 she played Ado Annie in St. Ann's Warehouse's critically acclaimed revival of Oklahoma![11] The production transferred to Broadway's Circle in the Square Theatre in 2019, earning Stroker a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical. This made her the first person who uses a wheelchair to be nominated for and to receive a Tony Award for acting.[12][13]

AdvocacyEdit

Stroker is a co-chair of Women Who Care, which supports United Cerebral Palsy of New York City.

She is a founding member of Be More Heroic, an anti-bullying campaign which tours the country connecting with thousands of students each year.

She has gone to South Africa with ARTS InsideOut where she has held theater classes and workshops for women and children affected by HIV and AIDS.

Personal lifeEdit

Stroker identifies as bisexual[14] and previously dated fellow The Glee Project contestant Dani Shay.[15]

CreditsEdit

Film and televisionEdit

Year Title Role Notes
2011 I Was a Mermaid and Now I'm a Pop Star Party Girl Video short
2012 The Glee Project Herself 12 episodes
2013 Glee Betty Pillsbury Episode: "I Do"
2014 Cotton Jeanie
2014–2015 Faking It Wendy 3 episodes
2017 Ten Days in the Valley Tamara 3 episodes
2018 Lethal Weapon Nina Episode: "Funny Money"
2018 Drunk History Judith Heumann Episode: "Civil Rights"
2018 Instinct Ella Episode: "Secrets and Lies"
2019 Charmed First Auditionee Episode: "Witch Perfect"

TheatreEdit

Year Title Role Location Notes
2011 The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee Olive Ostrovsky Paper Mill Playhouse Regional Theatre
2015 Spring Awakening Anna Wallis Annenberg Center Regional Theatre – Deaf West Theatre
2015–2016 Brooks Atkinson Theatre Broadway – Deaf West Theatre Transfer
2018 The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee Olive Ostrovsky Cleveland Play House Regional Theatre
Annie Star-to-Be Hollywood Bowl Regional Theatre
Oklahoma! Ado Annie Carnes St. Ann's Warehouse Off-Broadway
2019 Circle in the Square Theatre Broadway
Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical
Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "'This is How I Roll… Literally' — Ali Stroker On Auditioning the Same Way She Dates and Making Broadway History | Playbill". Playbill. Retrieved 2017-08-08.
  2. ^ "Rebecca Naomi Jones and Ali Stroker to Star in Oklahoma! at St. Ann's Off-Broadway". Celement, Playbill. 2018-07-25. Retrieved 2018-12-11.
  3. ^ Herzog, Laura. "Actress who uses a wheelchair a likely first for Broadway", NJ Advance Media for NJ.com, September 11, 2015. Accessed October 29, 2017. "Ali Stroker may be the first person who uses a wheelchair to be in a Broadway production, ever. The 28-year-old Ridgewood-raised singer, actress and philanthropist says 'it's the ultimate dream come true' to star in a special production of Spring Awakening --a musical, by Deaf West Theatre, that is also performed in American Sign Language.... Stroker, who was president of Ridgewood High School president during her senior year, also starred in several high school productions including as Maria in West Side Story, and Cosette in Les Miz."
  4. ^ "The Courage to be Different: Ali Stroker a Burgeoning Star". Ridgewood-Glen Rock, NJ Patch. 2011-03-27. Retrieved 2017-08-08.
  5. ^ Brunner, Jeryl. "Ali Stroker Makes History as the First Performer in a Wheelchair in a Broadway Show". Parade. Retrieved 2017-08-08.
  6. ^ Desk, BWW News. "Ali Stroker to 'Burn Old Dresses' in Concert at The Green Room 42". BroadwayWorld.com. Retrieved 2017-09-01.
  7. ^ Gates, Anita (2011-01-28). "'Putnam County Spelling Bee' at Paper Mill - Review". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-09-01.
  8. ^ "Ali Stroker-American Singer and Actress". Amherst College. 2016-10-17. Retrieved 2017-09-01.
  9. ^ JOE DZIEMIANOWICZ (September 15, 2015). "'Spring Awakening' actress Ali Stroker makes history as first actor in a wheelchair on Broadway". New York Daily News. Retrieved December 18, 2015.
  10. ^ "Bergen's Ali Stroker Cast In ABC's 'Ten Days In The Valley'". Wyckoff, NJ Patch. 2017-02-02. Retrieved 2017-09-01.
  11. ^ "Rebecca Naomi Jones and Ali Stroker to Star in Oklahoma! at St. Ann's Off-Broadway". Celement, Playbill. 2018-07-25. Retrieved 2018-12-11.
  12. ^ Fierberg, Ruthie (2019-05-02). "Ali Stroker Talks Making Broadway History With Her 2019 Tony Nomination". Playbill. Retrieved 2019-05-06.
  13. ^ "Tony Award winner Ali Stroker makes history as first wheelchair user to win trophy". Fox News. Retrieved 2019-06-10.
  14. ^ "History-Making Broadway Star Opens Up About Being Bisexual". HuffPost Canada. 2015-10-20. Retrieved 2017-08-08.
  15. ^ "Ali Stroker Talks Girlfriend Dani Shay, 'Glee Project': Exclusive Interview". LOGO News. Retrieved 2017-08-08.

External linksEdit