Ellen Barkin became the first actor to win a 2011 Tony Award, taking home the Best Featured Actress in a Play trophy for her Broadway debut performance as Dr. Emma Brookner in the current revival of Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart.
Calling her win “the proudest moment in my career,” the movie star-turned-theater actress said, “I am so grateful and humbled,” noting that her role as a crusading, wheelchair-bound AIDS doctor "has transformed me not just as an actor but as a human being. It taught me that one person can make a difference, that one person can change the world.” Barkin saluted the production’s star, Joe Mantello, a Best Actor Tony nominee for playing Ned Weeks, noting that “like Atlas, [he] carries us across the stage night after night on his slim shoulders.”
Barkin went on to praise "the great, great" playwright Larry Kramer for taking “his most powerful weapon, his pen” and writing a play that brought the AIDS crisis to public attention. “Larry, this is for you and for all the bullets in your belt.”