Knoxville native wins first Tony Award for 'Once On This Island'

New York (WVLT) -- Knoxville native, Ashlee Latimer, won a Tony Award for her role as a co-producer for "Once On This Island."

Latimer won the award for the "Best Musical Revival Category."

"After you go back stage they take yo back for press photos," said Latimer in an interview with WVLT News. "When we were back there I was literally pinching myself and the other producers and I were squeezing each other like is this real? it was surreal."

The Bearden High School and University of Tennessee graduate said her hometown helped her achieve this moment.

Latimer also attributed the Knoxville Children's Theatre to her success. She has performed in more than a dozen plays at the theater and directed three when she was a high school student.

"That is my home, even if everything else in Knoxville changed, as long as the Children's Theatre is there it will always be home," said Latimer.

"I'm very proud of Ashlee," said Zack Allen, producing director at Knoxville Children's Theatre. "I hold her dear as a friend, I think she's a lovely human. I have fond memories of her as a student but really I'm most proud that she used her skills and work ethic to achieve this dream and to serve as a great role model which she has always done here."

Music superstars Sara Bareilles and Josh Groban hosted the 2018 Tony Awards from Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

This year's program featured performances by the casts of the 2018 Tony Award-nominated shows, including "Frozen," "Mean Girls," and "SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical." There was also be plenty of celebrity appearances, with stars like Christine Baranski, Robert De Niro, Billy Joel, and Tina Fey all scheduled to take the stage.

The American Theatre Wing's 72nd Annual Tony Awards honored theatre professionals for distinguished achievement on Broadway. This year, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Chita Rivera received Lifetime Achievement awards.

For more information on the Tony Awards, visit and