And the Tony Nominees Are…


Jennifer Tipton, Tony Award Nominee, “To Kill a Mockingbird”

In this episode of “And the Tony Nominees Are…” Jennifer Tipton, 2019 Tony Award Nominee, Best Lighting Design of a Play for her work in the Broadway play, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” reflects on wanting to have ten children when she was young, her aspirations of going to the moon, her familial connections to “To Kill a Mockingbird” and how her career as a dancer led her to lighting design.

AIRED: June 04, 2019 | 0:04:36

I call myself a dinosaur because lighting technology

has really moved at a huge, fast pace.

And here I am, 81, and, uh, with --

with, you know, suffering all the problems

that 81-year-olds suffer.

But my eyes are still good.

My feet can fall apart, but as long as my eyes work,

I'm a lighting designer and loving it.


I call myself a dinosaur because lighting technology

My name is Jennifer Tipton,

and I've been nominated for a Tony

for "To Kill a Mockingbird" for the lighting.

My father's favorite game was baseball.

So we had a -- a small baseball diamond.

And I can remember thinking that when I grew up,

I wanted to have ten children --

nine baseball players and a girl.

[ Chuckles ]

And of course, baseball players are all boys, so...

I call myself a dinosaur because lighting technology

Oh, she was just gonna, you know, be a girl.

Somehow, with no children, I've ended up very differently.

Really, dance concerts were my first theater.

I did a dance concert, and people --

it was modern dance.

And people laughed, and it didn't bother me.

And my mother said, "Well, why didn't it bother you?"

And I said, "Well, they'll learn."

They let me come to New York all by myself for two weeks

in December of my senior year in high school,

to study with Martha Graham.

I always had confidence, let's put it that way.

And I always knew what I wanted to do.

That's not true.

I changed my mind often, but each time,

I knew what I wanted to do.

Well, and my mother being a physicist,

she went to the University of Georgia.

And she wanted to be a chemist.

She went to the Chemistry Department.

They wanted no part of women.

So, uh, she went to the Physics Department,

where they greeted her with open arms.

I went to Cornell University.

I went, wanting to be the first person on the Moon.

My mother, on the other hand, said that the letter --

my application letter sounded like Cornell was a dance school.

Spent all my time in the dance studio

rather than the physics lab,

and graduated and came to New York to be a dancer.

I, um, became a -- a --

sort of a rehearsal mistress for the company

that I had been dancing for -- the Merry-Go-Rounders.

And so I went to the performances

to be able to critique the dancers.

And as I say, I looked at the bigger picture,

and that was light.

I fell in love with it,

and I have been in love with it ever since.

"To Kill a Mockingbird" has been sort of special.

My parents -- the adults in that family,

and I with the daughter of the family --

were, um, very close to, um, Harper Lee.

Also, there was a time when my father walked through

the living room when the TV was on,

and "To Kill a --" the movie "To Kill a Mockingbird" was on.

And he said, "Oh."

And he stopped and he watched the movie.

And he said, "You know, that's my father.

Atticus Finch was my father."

My father's father -- my grandfather --

was a small-town lawyer in, um,

a Southern town of Sylvester, Georgia.

And he was liberal, and he was paid by vegetables

just like Atticus Finch.

In working on the play, I realized that my father, too,

was very much like Atticus Finch.

The, uh, poor girl in the movie

who accused Tom Robinson of the rape was my cousin.

It was played by my cousin.

So "To Kill a Mockingbird" is very, very special to me.

And the fact that I have a Tony nomination

just to put the icing on the cake is terrific.


I call myself a dinosaur because lighting technology

I call myself a dinosaur because lighting technology


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