By Brenna Corporal
She’s better than all of us. The woman’s got SIX Tony Awards in her house, including one in each category. But you can’t get six Tonys without a lot of hard work and talent. This is her story from the beginning.
Audra Ann McDonald was born on July 3, 1970, in Berlin, Germany, where her father was stationed with the U.S. Army and was raised in Fresno, California. She was diagnosed as “hyperactive” at a young age, and her parents decided to put her into acting to balance that. She graduated from many schools under the performing arts companies and went on to study classical voice at Juilliard School, where she graduated from in 1993.
Audra made her Broadway debut as a replacement for Ayah in The Secret Garden in 1991. Since then, she has been in over 10 Broadway productions. She won her first Tony Award in 1994 for Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for the role of Carrie Pipperidge. She has gone on to receive 5 more Tonys: 1996, Best Featured Actress in a Play, Sharon in Master Class; 1998, Best Featured Actress in a Musical, Sarah in Ragtime; 2004, Best Featured Actress in a Play, Ruth Younger in A Raisin in the Sun; 2012, Best Actress in a Musical, Bess in Porgy and Bess; 2014, Best Actress in a Play, Billie Holiday in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill. She has also been nominated 2 other times. So she’s kind of a big deal.
Audra McDonald is not only an amazing and talented Broadway actress, but she has also been nominated for two Emmys: 2001, Oustanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or TV Movie, Susie Monahan in Wit; 2008; and Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie, Ruth Younger in A Raisin in the Sun. She also appeared in the star-studded NBC production of The Sound of Music: LIVE! with other Tony winners Laura Benanti and Christian Borle.
If you’ve seen an Audra McDonald Tonys Acceptance Speech and you weren’t moved to tears, there must be something wrong. Every speech she has ever given has been beautiful and moving. From thanking her parents for encouraging her to paying honor to all the “strong and brave and courageous” African American women who proceeded her to telling her daughter, Zoe, how much she will always love her, Audra has given some of the best speeches.
Speaking of the Tonys, Audra McD literally DROPPED THE MIC one time with Neil Patrick Harris. I mean, come on, this woman is legend- wait for it- dary!
All in all, Audra McDonald is one of the most talented and hardworking ladies on the Great White Way and has made such a positive impact on our community.