HomeAAPI ActorsTony winner Ruth Ann Miles overcomes expectations and tragedy

Tony winner Ruth Ann Miles overcomes expectations and tragedy

By Randall Yip, AsAmNews Executive Editor

Ruth Ann Miles debuts June 21 -25 in the New York Encores! production of the 6-time Tony-winning play from 2005, The Light In the Piazza.

A Tony-winner herself for best actress as Lady Thiang in the revival of The King & I, Miles says The Light in the Piazza with its story of a family overcoming tragedy hits too close to home.

“What’s difficult about my personal situation is that I cannot tap into my personal life into this. I try very hard not to because it is too painful,” she said to AsAmNews during an interview via Zoom.

In 2018, a car struck Miles as she was crossing the street in New York with her four-year-old daughter, Abigail and a family friend. Both Abigail and the child of a family friend, 1-year-old Joshua died.

Miles recovered from the accident, but her unborn baby died two months later.

In The Light in the Piazza, she plays an overprotective mother who gets in the way of her daughter finding true happiness.

Ruthie Ann Miles (Margaret Johnson) and Anna Zavelson (Clara Johnson) durng rehearsal for The Light in the Piazza
By Lia Chang. Ruthie Ann Miles (Margaret Johnson) and Anna Zavelson (Clara Johnson)

“She has been so protective of Clara her whole life since she was 12 to now she’s in her 20s. Keeping her protected, keeping her away from being hurt, and as much as we think about love and how beautiful it is, love will hurt her the most because surely she will never have that reciprocated to her.”

Rather than her experience with tragedy, Miles instead channels her life as a nurturing mother into her role.

“I’m a caregiver by nature. And I love people by nature. I’m a people person. So it’s really those kinds of ties that I bring into the show,” she said.

AsAmNews spoke to Miles just days after she missed out on winning what would have been her second Tony. This time for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical. The award went instead to Bonnie Milligan for Kimberly Akimbo.

She recalls the excitement and anticipation of hearing her category called and the love and adoration she gave to Milligan after she won. It’s the same sort of appreciation her fellow actors and actors showered her with in 2015 after her Tony win.

“I try not to put too much investment into what other people think about my performance,” she said. “Because if you do, if you start to think too much about the good things that people are saying, to be fair, you have to also believe the not nice things people are saying.”

Miles currently also appears in the TV Series All Rise which aired on CBS for two seasons before being picked up by Oprah Winfrey’s OWN for a third season.

She’s also appeared in numerous episodes in several other series. However, she revealed to AsAmNews that she’s uncomfortable in front of a camera and is actually afraid of it.

Rith Ann Miles
By Lia Chang, Ruth Ann Miles

“I think it’s because this digital world is forever. And once it’s on camera, it’s somewhere forever. And I really love this quality of fleeting moments. That’s the magic of theater. You have a moment it’s live. The audience and I experience it together. And then it’s gone.”

In theater, there are no second takes. Once a scene is done for that night, it’s done. But you do get to go it all over again the next performance.

“I’m humbled by the thought that somebody wants to share those moments with me. In a way, it’s very private. If it’s 1500 people in that audience, if it’s 50, I really just love how intimate and personal that is. And I love that we have that moment together and we never get it back.”

The Light in the Piazza runs June 21 – 25 as the final production of the New York City Center’s 2023 Encores!

Director Chay Yew, Anna Zavelson, Ruthie Ann Miles, Encores! Creative Producing Director Clint Ramos
By Lia Chang Director Chay Yew, Anna Zavelson, Ruthie Ann Miles, Encores! Creative Producing Director Clint Ramos

It’s directed by Chay Yew (Cambodian Rock Band). Anna Zavelson plays the daughter.

Tickets start at $35 and are available online here.

Next season will be the New York Center Theatre’s 30th season of revivals.

It’s led by Artistic Director Lear deBessonet, Producing Creative Director Clint Ramos, and new Music Director Mary-Mitchell Campbell.

(Correction: An earlier version of this article regrettably misidentified the name of Mile’s child involved in the article. We sincerely apologize for this error.)

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  1. Ruthie Ann Miles’ daughter who was tragically killed was named Abigail, not Elizabeth. Please correct your article. Elizabeth is her daughter who was born two years afterwards.


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