Fordham Theatre faculty Dede Ayite and John Johnson, FCLC ’02, took home Broadway gold on June 16 at the 77th Tony Awards, held across the street from Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus.

Dede Ayite, an adjunct professor in the Fordham Theatre program, became the first Black woman to win Best Costume Design of a Play for her work on Jaja’s African Hair Braiding. It was her first Tony award.

“Thank you to all of the costume shops and makers who truly move the needle in terms of getting the glitz and the glam onstage,” she said in an acceptance speech that also credited family and friends from her native Ghana.

“Without them, I would not be here. The show would not look as amazing as it does.”

Ayite, who teaches the Costume Design course at Fordham, was nominated in two Tony categories for her work on three productions—Best Costume Design of a Play for both Appropriate and Jaja’s African Hair Braiding and Best Costume Design of a Musical for Hell’s Kitchen

Johnson, an adjunct professor who teaches the Creative Producing course for Fordham Theatre, also took home a Tony for his role as producer for Stereophonic, which won for best play.

The cast of Stereophonic, including Fordham’s John Johnson and Tom Pecinka. Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images  

It was Johnson’s ninth win since 2013, when he won his first Tony as a producer for Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

Stereophonic, which follows a fictional 1970s rock band on the cusp of superstardom as they struggle through recording their new album, won four other Tony Awards

Fellow Fordham graduate Tom Pecinka, FCLC ’10, who made his Broadway acting debut in Stereophonic and was nominated for a Tony for his performance, joined Johnson on stage at the Lincoln Center’s Koch Theater with the cast and crew.

Including Ayite and Johnson, eight members of the Fordham community were nominated for Tony Awards this year.

Watch below as Frank DiLella, FCLC ’06, host of the Spectrum News NY 1 show On Stage, interviews Pecinka on the red carpet before the show.


Patrick Verel is a news producer for Fordham Now. He can be reached at [email protected] or (212) 636-7790.