Michael R. Jackson
Jackson at the 75th Tony Awards in 2022
Jackson at the 75th Tony Awards in 2022
Born1981 (age 42–43)
Detroit, Michigan
OccupationPlaywright, composer, and lyricist
EducationNew York University (BFA, MFA)
Notable awardsWhiting Award, Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Tony Award, Lambda Literary Award for Drama, Drama Desk Award, Obie Award

Michael R. Jackson (born 1981)[1] is an American playwright, composer, and lyricist, best known for his musical A Strange Loop, which won the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the 2022 Tony Award for Best Musical. He is originally from Detroit.


Jackson interned for a time at ABC, working on daytime programming, specifically All My Children. Jackson has described himself as “a huge soap person,” and wanted to originally write for soaps.[2]

Jackson wrote the book and lyrics for Only Children with composer Rachel Peters, which was presented at NYU's Frederick Loewe Theatre.[3]

He also wrote lyrics and co-wrote the book, with Anna K. Jacobs, for the musical adaptation of the 2007 indie film Teeth.[4] He sang "Lonesome of the Road" on a tribute album for Elizabeth Swados.[5][6]

In 2019, his song cycle, The Kids on the Lawn, was published in The New York Times Magazine's culture issue. The issue, organized around the theme "America 2024", imagines what America will be like five years into the future.[7]

Jackson's musical, A Strange Loop, received its world premiere at Playwrights Horizons in New York City in 2019.[8] After a 6-week run at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in Washington D.C. in 2021, A Strange Loop opened on Broadway at the Lyceum Theatre in April 2022.[9][10]

His musical White Girl in Danger began previews at the Tony Kiser Theater on March 15, 2023, and opened on April 10th, 2023. The musical explores the intersections of race, class, and identity in daytime soap operas.[11]

Major works

Year Title Music Lyrics Book
2019 A Strange Loop Michael R. Jackson
2023 White Girl in Danger Michael R. Jackson

Awards and recognition

In 2017, Jackson received a Jonathan Larson Grant from the American Theatre Wing[12] and was one of 11 winners of the 2017 Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Award.[13] He was also a Sundance Theatre Institute Composer Fellow and a 2016–2017 Dramatist Guild Fellow.[14]

Jackson was named one of the "Black Male Writers for our Time" by The New York Times in 2018.[15] In 2019, he received a Whiting Award for drama and a Helen Merrill Award for Playwriting.[16][17] In 2020, Jackson was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for A Strange Loop, becoming the first black musical theatre writer to win the award.[18] He was also the winner of the Lambda Literary Award for Drama[19] and a Fred Ebb Award for aspiring musical theatre songwriters.[20] Additionally, Jackson received two Drama Desk Awards, two Obie Awards, two Outer Critics Circle Award Honors, and an Antonyo Award for Best Book for A Strange Loop.[21]

In June 2020, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the first LGBTQ Pride parade, Queerty named him among the fifty heroes "leading the nation toward equality, acceptance, and dignity for all people".[22][23] In 2022, Jackson was featured in the book 50 Key Figures in Queer US Theatre, with a profile written by theatre scholar Aviva Helena Neff.[24]

In March 2021 Jackson was awarded the Windham–Campbell Literature Prize for drama.[25]

At the 75th Tony Awards, Jackson's musical A Strange Loop was nominated for 11 awards, winning Best Musical and Best Book of a Musical.[26]

Personal life

Jackson studied at Cass Technical High School and attended New York University.[27] He is openly gay.[28]


  1. ^ "Michael R. Jackson". Windham Campbell Prizes. New Haven CT: The Donald Windham-Sandy M. Campbell Literature Prizes, Yale University. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  2. ^ Kaufman, Joanne (2022-08-02). "Michael R. Jackson, in a Place All His Own in Washington Heights". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2023-09-02.
  3. ^ Gans, Andrew (4 January 2007). "Reading of Only Children Musical, Inspired By Spring Awakening, Set for Jan. 9". Playbill. Retrieved 29 September 2017.
  4. ^ "Michael R. Jackson". Whiting Foundation. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
  5. ^ Culwell-Block, Logan (May 22, 2020). "Amber Gray, Michael R. Jackson, Sophia Anne Caruso, More Sing on Elizabeth Swados Tribute Album, Out May 22". Retrieved 26 November 2022.
  6. ^ Cox, Gordon (16 June 2020). "Listen: This Overlooked Composer Inspired Broadway's Rising Stars". Variety. Retrieved 26 November 2022.
  7. ^ "America 2024". The New York Times. 10 April 2019. Retrieved 12 April 2019.
  8. ^ "A Strange Loop". Playwrights Horizons. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
  9. ^ "A Strange Loop". Woolly Mammoth. 2021-08-09. Retrieved 2022-06-13.
  10. ^ Rabinowitz, Chloe. "A STRANGE LOOP on Broadway Sets Full Cast and Dates; Tickets on Sale". BroadwayWorld.com. Retrieved 2022-06-13.
  11. ^ "White Girl in Danger". Playbill. 4 April 2023. Retrieved 28 April 2023.
  12. ^ Viagas, Robert (7 February 2017). "2017 Jonathan Larson Grant Recipients Announced". Playbill.
  13. ^ "Lincoln Center Announces 2017 Emerging Artists". American Theatre Magazine. 15 February 2017.
  14. ^ "Recipient: Michael R. Jackson". American Theatre Wing. Retrieved 29 September 2017.
  15. ^ Mathis, Ayana (30 November 2018). "Black Male Writers for Our Time". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
  16. ^ Dwyer, Colin (20 March 2019). "'The Future Of Literature': Whiting Awards Celebrate 10 Emerging Writers". NPR. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
  17. ^ Clement, Olivia (19 June 2019). "Michael R. Jackson, Aleshea Harris, and More Named 2019 Helen Merrill Award Winners". Playbill. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
  18. ^ "Michael R. Jackson Wins 2020 Drama Pulitzer Prize for 'A Strange Loop'". 4 May 2020.
  19. ^ Erin Vanderhoof, "The Winners of the 32nd Annual Lambda Literary Awards". Vanity Fair, June 1, 2020.
  20. ^ Gans, Andrew (10 November 2020). "Michael R. Jackson, Ben Bonnema and Christopher Staskel Named Winners of 16th Annual Fred Ebb Award". Playbill. Retrieved 13 January 2021.
  21. ^ McPhee, Ryan (20 June 2020). "Here Are the Winners of Broadway Black's Inaugural Antonyo Awards". Playbill. Retrieved 13 January 2021.
  22. ^ "Queerty Pride50 2020 Honorees". Queerty. Retrieved 2020-06-30.
  23. ^ Gremore, Graham (2020-07-21). "These queer writers are giving voice to our diversity one word at a time". Queerty. Retrieved 2020-08-13.
  24. ^ Neff, Aviva Helena (2022). "Michael R. Jackson". In Noriega and Schildcrout (ed.). 50 Key Figures in Queer US Theatre. Routledge. pp. 103–107. ISBN 978-1032067964.
  25. ^ "Windham-Campbell Prize recipients announced". Books+Publishing. 2021-03-23. Retrieved 2021-03-25.
  26. ^ Evans, Greg (2022-06-13). "A Strange Loop Takes Best Musical At Tony Awards: Full Winners List". Deadline. Retrieved 2022-06-13.
  27. ^ Hinds, Julie (11 May 2020). "Detroit native, Cass Tech alum Michael R. Jackson wins Pulitzer for off-Broadway musical". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 12 January 2021.
  28. ^ Vincentelli, Elisabeth (2019-07-14). "What Makes Michael R. Jackson Tick, and What Ticks Him Off". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-01-02.