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Andre De Shields wins first Tony Award at 73, shouts out Baltimore hometown in acceptance speech

Sunday night, Baltimore native André De Shields won a Tony Award for best featured actor in a musical, his first in his 50-year career.

De Shields, a Baltimore City College graduate, won for his role as Hermes in the play “Hadestown,” a stage musical adaptation of the 2010 folk album of the same name by artist Anaïs Mitchell.

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“Hadestown” also took home the Tony Award for best musical.

According to broadway.com, De Shields showed his pride for his hometown during his acceptance speech.

“Baltimore, Maryland are you in the house?” the website quoted him as saying. “I hope you’re watching at home because I am making good on my promise that I would come to New York and become someone you’d be proud to call your native son.”

On Twitter, De Shields wrote “I have paid my karma debt to my mother and father.

In a 2015 interview, De Shields said he first became connected to the arts through Baltimore’s Royal Theater, saying it “was where I would go for my window on the world.”

In an interview with The Daily Beast earlier this year, he said his time at the theater “was definitely the introduction I needed to know that I was not alone.”

The 73-year-old has been prolific in the world of theater as an actor, singer and director among other roles since he began performing in the late 1960s.

The ninth of 11 children who grew up in West Baltimore, De Shields got a breakout role in the 1975 play “The Wiz,” a Broadway adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” with an all black-cast.

He’d previously been nominated for two Tony Awards for his roles in 1997’s “Play On!” and 2001’s “The Full Monty.”

De Shields has also been on the small screen and won an Emmy in 1982 for his performance as the Viper in the NBC special “Ain’t Misbehavin’.”

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