NBA Player Tyson Chandler is a Tony-Award Nominee

Tyson Chandler spent years as one of the best defensive big men in the NBA. But basketball isn’t his only talent. Did you know he’s also a Tony Award nominee? It’s a claim that no other NBA players can make. 

At first glance, an NBA player entering the world of theater may seem like a curious pairing. So what play got Chandler his nomination and what exactly got him involved in the world of theater? Let’s take a closer look at the story behind Chandler’s Tony nomination. 

The play that got Tyson Chandler a Tony Award nomination

Tyson Chandler playing basketball
Tyson Chandler | Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Chandler’s first foray into producing a Broadway play culminated into one of the top honors one can achieve in the theater world: a Tony Award nomination. 

The play nominated was called The Trip to Bountiful. It played at Stephen Sondheim Theatre, with 178 total performances. It netted four Tony nominations overall including: 

  • Best Actress in a Play – Cicely Tyson
  • Best Featured Actress in a Play – Condola Rashad
  • Best Sound Design for a Play – John Gromada
  • Best Revival of a Play

The only category the play won in was Tyson’s. That’s no surprise, as she’s an absolute legend in the world of acting. She also took home two additional awards: the Drama Desk Award and the Outer Critics Circle Award. Tyson later reprised her role in a Lifetime TV movie based on the play. 

What is The Trip to Bountiful about?

The Broadway cast included Tyson, Rashad, Vanessa Williams, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Tom Wopat, Devon Abner, Arthur French, Susan Heyward, and Curtis Billings. 

The story of the play involved a woman named Carrie Watts who lives with her overbearing son and daughter-in-law. She escapes their house to return to her hometown called Bountiful.

The play follows her trek as she crosses path with many vibrant and interesting characters. Watts’ travels take her to a bus station and she enlists the help of the town’s local sheriff to aid her on her quest back to Bountiful. 

The play’s origins stretch all the way back to 1953 when it first aired as a teleplay for NBC. Later it would become a Broadway play starring Eva Marie Saint. In 1985, the story came to the big screen, where actor Geraldine Paige won an Oscar for her performance in the film. 

What drew Tyson Chandler to produce this play

Chandler didn’t have a lot of producing experience, so it’s interesting to consider what attracted him to this particular project. He produced it along with his wife.

It’s so far outside his usual comfort zone that there had to be at least a few reasons why he’d embark on this particular endeavor. According to Chandler’s interview with The Source, a big part of what drew him to the play was the talent involved.

Stars like Tyson, Williams, and Gooding made working on the play a much more appealing project. It’s rare to assemble this kind of talent for any type of creative project, much less a play such as this one. 

Chandler was also asked about the fact that the play featured an all-black cast. He confirmed that this was another major draw for the piece: 

“Yes, Absolutely when we sat  down with the other producers, that was one of the things that drew us to the play and also to myself being the first athlete to be nominated for a Tony to have the opportunity to do so was also obviously something special.”

With the star-studded cast and obviously high-quality material they had to work with, it’s no wonder Chandler enjoyed his time in the theater. With a group that talented and a play that well-written, Chandler seems like he didn’t have much to worry about as a producer.