Jonathan Groff Cries Winning First Tony Award, Thanks ‘Spring Awakening’ Cast for Inspiring Him to Come Out at 23

Jonathan Groff Cries Winning First Tony Award, Thanks ‘Spring Awakening’ Cast for Inspiring Him to Come Out at 23

The third time’s the charm. Jonathan Groff has won his first Tony Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical for “Merrily We Roll Along.”

Groff played Franklin Shepard alongside Lindsay Mendez and Daniel Radcliffe who also won his first Tony Award at the 77th Annual Tony Awards, which Groff was also in tears over when Radcliffe thanked him in his speech.

More from Variety

Groff’s “Merrily We Roll Along” was his third nomination. He was previously nominated for his roles as King George the III in “Hamilton” and Melchior Gabor in “Spring Awakening.”

In a teary-eyed speech, Groff said the Tony Awards have always meant a lot to him, and he used to tape it on VHS when he was a child, “All I wanted was to be a part of this community,” after growing up in a conservative town in Pennsylvania. Groff paused to call out his parents who were also in attendance and thank them, “My family knew the life-saving power of fanning the flame of a young person’s passion without judgment…I walk through life with an open heart because you let me know that I could,” Groff added about the support he’s received from his parents.

Groff mentioned this year was his 20-year anniversary of moving to New York City. When he first did, he worked as a server but always yeared for the stage.

He also thanked his “Spring Awakening” cast for inspiring him to come out of the closet at 23 years old. Groff first met best friend, Lea Michele during his time acting in “Spring Awakening” where the two played lovers.

When asked if he spoke to Michele or his Spring Awakening cast after accepting his award, he replied “I haven’t spoken to them yet,” Groff said while getting choked up. “But Gideon Glick, John Gallanger Jr. and Lea are all watching at Lea’s house,” Groff told Variety in the press room. “We just did our ‘Spring Awakening’ reunion two years ago, and we made a documentary about it and we all reconnected.”

“That show changed my life. It inspired me to come out of the closet when I was 23 years old. I found who I was at that time, and that show changed my career and changed my life. And it felt essential to mention everybody involved in that show, because it was so meaningful to me,” Groff continued. “Also because ‘Merrily We Along’ is as a show, invites us all to touch that part of ourselves that we had inside of us when we were doing ‘Spring Awakening.'”

They since starred in Ryan Murphy’s widely popular musical TV series “Glee” together. Groff previously told Variety that he doesn’t have plans yet to reunite to Broadway with Michele, he’s “always looking.”

Watch Jonathan Groff’s full Tony acceptance speech below.

Best of Variety

Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.