We properly celebrated Phylicia Rashad's sensational work as Clair Huxtable on The Cosby Show earlier this week, though truly, we could go on for days. We could really just throw up a collection of Clair clips interspersed with the word "YAAAAASSSS," and it'd be appropriate. She's impossible to overrate.
But Rashad is so much more than Clair, though that may seem impossible. For instance, she's a Tony-winning theater actress for her performance in A Raisin in the Sun. And if you haven't seen her accepting said Tony, celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, you haven't really seen Phylicia Rashad.
The speech itself starts at just before the two-minute mark, if you want to skip to the good stuff. And my God, is the stuff good. She's giving a performance while accepting an award for a performance – and the acceptance is just as award-worthy! It hits every major emotional note: personal and professional thanks mixed with acknowledgement of how truly fortunate she's been throughout her career.
Her line readings are just superb, too. "Courageously, fearlessly, consistently" her mother fought, Rashad biting into each word with relish. "Tremendous self-effort and amazing Grace" she credits for her career's success, almost making the words sing. She does not stutter once, does not say "um" or "uh." She is composed – the very essence of class.
The whole speech is masterful, but the ending is really where it becomes pure poetry. "I thank God for everything. Every, every single thing. For my mother. For my sister. For my brothers. For my children." Then, she takes an extra bit of pause, surveying the room with the quickest dart of her eyes. "And for this. Thank you."
It's so marvelous, it feels like we should be thanking her. Happy 10th Tonyversary, Phylicia. Now go win another so we can hear you give another tremendous speech.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.