The road to Broadway is paved with determination.
The consummate artist is one who can channel a singular talent into multiple experiences. -Elle
Audra McDonald was only nine years old when she started acting. Her parents enrolled her in acting classes with the hopes of redirecting youthful angst. The extracurricular pastime soon became a lifelong passion and calling.
After high school McDonald gained acceptance to Julliard, but not on her terms. McDonald hoped to be a part of the Acting program like her peers. Instead, she ended up in the Vocal program and encountered setbacks. Like many young college women filled with certain dreams, there is a level of uncertainty. Am I good enough? Do I belong? The renown stage performer confesses that her time at Julliard had its challenges. She attempted suicide and ended up in a psychiatric hospital. In spite of the rough patches, McDonald found sweet vindication when her debut Broadway performance was located across the street from Julliard. She won a Tony award for her portrayal of Carrie Pipperidge in Carousel.
Audra McDonald is the ultimate creator. Her transformative presence comes alive as a theatre, film, television and studio recording artist. With six record-breaking Tony awards, five of them awarded before she was 30-years old, McDonald has solidified her place in Broadway royalty. How does one woman command pure wonderment in her performances? It all starts with rituals before every performance.
My ritual is basically to be as quiet as I possibly can and by myself. I don’t like to chitchat before I get on stage. A lot of people think I am mad at them, but it’s just that I get quiet and inward. I am preparing myself to turn my soul inside out. I get really quiet, and am just conserving every last-minute for myself.
Her resume reads like a college literature syllabus with masterful roles in The Secret Garden, Porgy and Bess, and A Raisin in the Sun to name a few. Capturing the complexities of the incomparable Billie Holiday in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill is a feat beyond measure. Yet, McDonald nails it and lands a historic Tony award. She is such an inspiration for all women, actors, and professionals. Her tenacity and strength in an industry that is hellbent on stereotypes is praiseworthy.
The married mother of one daughter is also a Grammy winner. Look for her upcoming project alongside Oprah in the two-character play, Night Mother.