What is an EGOT? | StageMilk

What is an EGOT?

Written by on | Acting Industry

In February 2023, American actor Viola Davis became the just 18th person in history to join a very exclusive club. Davis was awarded a Grammy for the audio book narration of her memoir Finding Me. While she is no stranger to awards or recognition, that particular win was different from all the rest: in that moment, Viola Davis had won an EGOT.

EGOT is an acronym that stands for Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Award: it is a term/status given to people who have received recognition from each of the four major American awards in show business. Since 1962, only 23 artists have reached EGOT status—18 by competitive means and a further 5 through lifetime achievement awards. It is regarded as one of the most prestigious recognitions of one’s artistic career.

In this article, we’ll talk a bit about the current winners, what it takes to win an EGOT and how you might snag the title for yourself! Now, where did we put that envelope…

Current EGOT Winners (Competitive)

As of 2023, there are 18 people who have won an EGOT. It takes, on average, 26 years for a recipient to nab all four gongs. John Legend was the quickest to reach the status with 12 years between first and last win, while actor Helen Hayes took 45 years.

Legend is also one of the youngest recipients (tying with actor Robert Lopez) at 39, while John Gielgud achieved the status at 87—currently the oldest recipient at the time of their fourth win. As it’s a considerable achievement to become an EGOT, it should come as no surprise to you that winning an Emmy, Oscar, Grammy and Tony takes some time. Those of you keen to check off this goal: cool your jets.

Most recipients are performers of some kind, although many work or have won recognition as producers or directors. 50% of recipients are active in the music industry as singers, composers or lyricists. The current list of EGOT recipients are as follows:

Richard Rogers 
Profession: Composer, producer
EGOT achieved: 1962

Helen Hayes
Profession: Actor
EGOT achieved: 1977

Rita Moreno
Profession: Actress, singer
EGOT achieved: 1977

John Gielgud
Profession: Actor, director
EGOT achieved:1991

Audrey Hepburn
Profession: Actor
EGOT achieved: 1994

Marvin Hamlisch
Profession: Composer
EGOT achieved: 1995

Jonathan Tunick
Profession: Composer, conductor, arranger
EGOT achieved: 1997

Mel Brooks
Profession: Writer, director, actor
EGOT achieved: 2001

Mike Nichols
Profession: Director, comedian
EGOT achieved: 2001

Whoopi Goldberg
Profession: Comedian, actress, television host, producer
EGOT achieved:

Scott Rudin
Profession: Producer
EGOT achieved: 2012

Robert Lopez
Profession: Composer
EGOT achieved: 2014

Andrew Lloyd Webber
Profession: Composer, producer
EGOT achieved: 2018

Tim Rice
Profession: Lyricist, producer
EGOT achieved: 2018

John Legend
Profession: Singer, composer, producer
EGOT achieved: 2018

Alan Menken
Profession: Composer
EGOT achieved: 2020

Jennifer Hudson
Profession: Singer, actor
EGOT achieved: 2022

Viola Davis
Profession: Actor
EGOT achieved: 2023

Current EGOT Winners (Honourary/Non-Competitive)

In addition to the above list, there are five additional EGOT winners who are sometimes separated (as they are here) due to one of their awards being non-competitive. These may be for recognition as activists or humanitarians, special awards to recognise their industry contributions or other equivalent lifetime achievement awards.

Barbara Streisand
Profession: Actor, Director, Singer
EGOT achieved: 1970 (Special Tony Award)

Liza Minelli
Profession: Actor, Singer
EGOT achieved: 1990 (Grammy Legend Award)

James Earl Jones
Profession: Actor, voice actor
EGOT achieved: 2011 (Academy Honourary Award)

Harry Belafonte
Profession: Actor, signer, activist
EGOT achieved: 2014 (Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award)

Quincy Jones
Profession: Musician, composer, arranger, producer, activist
EGOT achieved: 2016 (Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award)

Three out of Four Ain’t Bad

Winning an EGOT requires considerable diversity in one’s careers. For this reason, there are plenty of celebrated actors, singers, writers and the like missing one or two of the required awards. This list includes Elton John, Al Pacino, Frances McDormand, David Byrne, Adele, Eminem, Trent Reznor, Kate Winslet and Lin-Manuel Miranda.

In some instances, groupings of two-or-more awards have their own informal name just like “EGOT”. One example of this is the Triple Crown (TC)—a shorthand descriptor for actors who have won all three top American acting awards (Emmy, Oscar, Tony).

Variations on EGOT

The Triple Crown is just one example of a variation of the EGOT award. The “PEGOT” adds a Pulitzer Prize or Peabody Award win, narrowing the field down to just five names: Mike Nichols, Rita Moreno, Barbara Streisand, Richard Rogers and Marvin Hamlisch. Also, less formally, there is the “REGOT” which adds a Razzie to the base qualification. Both Alan Menken and Liza Minelli have this dubious honour.

It’s also important to remember that EGOT is distinctly American, with the vast majority of winners being American (and the remainder British.) Internationally, EGOT equivalents do exist—although they carry far less prestige than the American counterpart. In 2019, Australian journalist Caitlin Welsh proposed the down-under equivalent “LAHA”: a Logie (television), ARIA (music), Helpmann (tehatre) and AACTA Award win.

How do I Win an EGOT?

Talk about setting yourself a goal! While EGOT status might be as simple (read: excruciatingly difficult) as winning an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony, there are a few things to keep in mind when setting out on such a lofty quest:

  • It helps if you can sing. Or compose, or arrange, or do anything related to music, really. For many almost-EGOTS, the Grammy is the most difficult hurdle to pass if they have little-to-no musical aspirations or talent. Grammy recognition for the recording of audio books has been a recent loophole for this,
  • Diversify your career. If you’re one of those actors who “only does screen/movies/web series”, chances are you’ll miss out on the chance on Hollywood’s Grand Slam. You’ll need to pursue work in film, television, theatre and the music industry to be recognised in each.
  • “Have your people call my people.” Working as a producer can give you a huge leg-up, as you may find yourself in a situation where your name is attached and you didn’t necessarily have to do all the work. Is this reductive of the role of the producer? Absolutely! Doesn’t mean it isn’t a little bit true…
  • Take your time. Let’s run those numbers again: just 18 people in history have achieved EGOT status, and the average time it took to complete was 26 years. This is to say nothing of all the work it took to win the first award. So our best piece of advice is to take your time and work on your craft. Don’t get so caught up on the endgame of a mantlepiece full of statues.

Award Recognition

This feels like a good time to reinforce something fairly important. Awards are the by-product of work well done—which is not to say that they are the only sign of this work, or that the absence of them means you’ve failed. Moreover, we haven’t even touched upon the political inner-workings of who receives awards and why in an industry town like Hollywood.

In conclusion: an EGOT is an incredible honour, and one that very few will ever achieve in their careers. But it’s not everything. And the list of brilliant almost- or never-winners contains some of the greatest names in our business. So if you fancy yourself a future EGOT winner: we applaud you! We’re here to cheer you on and we’ll guide you every step of the way. Just remember to enjoy the journey there, whether you ‘make it’ or not. That’s the bit that counts, and it’s more fun than a mansion full of statues.

About the Author

Alexander Lee-Rekers

Alexander Lee-Rekers is a Sydney-based writer, director and educator. He graduated from NIDA in 2017 with a Masters in Writing for Performance, and his career across theatre and television has seen him tackling projects as diverse as musical theatre, Shakespeare and Disney. He is the co-founder of theatre company Ratcatch (The Van De Maar Papers, The Linden Solution) and co-director of Bondi Kids Drama, a boutique drama school offering classes to young people in the Eastern Suburbs. Alexander is drawn to themes of family, ambition, failure and legacy: how human nature can flit with ease between compassion and cruelty. He also likes Celtic fiddle, mac & cheese and cats.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

5 + 20 =