Meet the 2016 Tony Nominees

The night before the Tony Awards were announced, Phillipa Soo was feeling a bit anxious and unable to fall asleep. She planned to get up at the crack of dawn. But as the Hamilton actress shared, "I woke up to my lovely fiancé (Steven Pasquale) saying 'good morning my Tony Nominee' -- that's how I found out."

This past Wednesday, May 4, 2016, just 24 hours after hearing the news, the 2016 Tony Award nominees gathered at the Paramount Hotel to meet the press. They had a chance to reflect on what it all meant. "I feel so lucky, grateful and excited," said Jennifer Simard, who got a Best Actress nod playing a wayward nun in Disaster! "I have wanted to do a role like this my whole life. I thank my friends for writing it and letting me create her with them."

Michael Shannon, nominated for Long Day's Journey Into Night continues to be humbled acting in Eugene O'Neill's most personal play that the playwright didn't even want to be performed until after he died. "He deveined himself on the page and gave it to the world," said Shannon. "People like to call the play a mountain, but I look at it like a labyrinth." He added that his work on Jamie is ever evolving. "I haven't locked off my performance. I'm still going out there with a huge amount of curiosity," shared Shannon. "It's tiring and challenging but every night when we're standing backstage about to go on, we're a very happy little group of people. What makes the play work is love."

In fact, it was a love fest all around. Love for their shows and the people who created them. "I saw Hamilton Off-Broadway right before I joined the cast and I wept through the whole thing and couldn't believe I got to be in it. It's so inspirational," said Jonathan Groff who was nominated for his turn as King George. "You know what makes Hamilton really special? Usually when someone super smart, like Lin (-Manuel Miranda), is writing something incredibly intelligent, there's a jaded quality. Often super-intelligent people are pessimistic. But somehow with Lin, he's super intelligent and optimistic. You're learning so much but what sends it over the edge is that the lyrics are so optimistic, like "...in the greatest city in the world." It's inspirational and aspirational. And that normally isn't combined with something so intelligently written."