Newly minted Tony nominee Corey Hawkins visited Stephen Colbert’s The Late Show May 18. Nominated for his role in the Tony-nominated revival of John Guare’s Six Degrees of Separation, Hawkins revealed to host Colbert that he didn’t even know the nominations were coming out.
“The Met Ball was fun. It was the night before, and everyone kept coming up to me and being like, ‘Good luck tomorrow,’ and I was like, ’I’m gonna try and not be hungover for the show,’” said Hawkins. “I thought they were talking about good luck for tomorrow night for the show—I didn’t realize they were talking about the nominations. I woke up at noon the next day, my phone was vibrating on the floor, and I found out from my friends that I was nominated.”
Hawkins is known to fans of the big and small screen as Dr. Dre in Straight Outta Compton and for his leading role on 24: Legacy, but the actor actually comes from the tradition of theatre: He studied at The Juilliard School. “I didn’t audition straight out of high school. I was like, ‘I’m gonna go to California and try my luck,’ but then I wanted to get back to the East Coast,” he said. “I remember thinking, ‘I want to go to Juilliard, I want that structure and I want that rigor and that classical foundation.’”
But when the time came, Hawkins nearly blew his audition. “I’d been working on this monologue since I was a kid. It was from James Baldwin’s The Amen Corner. I remember walking into the room, getting down on my knees, and I was like, ‘This is it, I’m about to act my behind off. They’re about to accept me into Juilliard,’ and completely blanked on the monologue,” he said.
Now a Juilliard grad and a Tony nominee, he looks forward to bringing the woman who inspired it all as his Tony date: his grandma.
Watch the video above for more of Hawkins’ interview.