This Actress Has Won More Tony Awards Than Any Other Performer, But You Probably Don’t Know Her Name

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10 things you may not know about Audra McDonald of Lady Day at Emersons Bar and Grill.

Audra McDonald

Reported by April Taylor

Despite only appearing in a total of nine Broadway productions, Audra McDonald has won more Tony Awards than any other performer after earning number six on Sunday night for Best actress for her role in “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill.”  She has managed to win a Tony in each of the four performing categories as well as two Grammys.

In her moving acceptance speech, McDonald thanked “all of the shoulders of the strong and brave and courageous women,” who made her accomplishments possible.  She dedicated the award to Billie Holiday, stating: “You deserve so much more than you were given when you were on this planet.  This is for you, Billie. Thank you so much.”

McDonald recently opened up to about unknown details surrounding her life and performing.  Although McDonald was born in Germany, her family moved to Fresno when she was an infant, so she reveals that her “native tongue” is non-existent.  Although her sister speaks German, she does not.  She reveals that growing up in Fresno made it possible for her parents to introduce her to theater as a way to channel her energy.  She also reports that following her first performance with the Good Company Players Junior Company, she was sure theater was something she wanted to be involved in.

McDonald goes on to admit that her Tony Awards are not on display in a central location at her house.  Instead, they are scattered in different places around the house because she does not want to prominently display them.  In another grounding revelation, McDonald admits to having attempted suicide.  She says that being open about it is a way to prevent people from having the power to pull it out of her closet and use it against her in some way, so talking about it is an act of defiance for her.

McDonald has also chosen to speak up for marriage equality through her choice of the Twitter handle @AudraEqualityMc.  She feels that marriage equality is a civil rights issue much the same way racial equality was in the 60s.

In discussing her role in “Lady Day At Emerson’s Bar & Grill,” McDonald admits that what shocked her the most in what she learned about Billie Holiday was that Billie never pitied herself despite facing many hardships.  McDonald also reveals that the hardest part about playing Billie on stage was making sure that her vocal performance was a true representation of the singer rather than an expression of her own voice.  As part of her preparation before going on stage, McDonald says she turns inward and spends time in silence in an effort to prepare herself “to turn her soul inside out.”  Judging from the accolades she has received, McDonald’s soul baring performance is truly inspiring.



  1. amazing grace

    June 11, 2014 at 12:36 am

    She’s the Best! 🙂 🙂

  2. SweetTweet

    June 11, 2014 at 9:32 am

    Powerful talent. Equating gay rights to civil rights…..long stretch.

    • William E. Poole

      June 11, 2014 at 10:31 am

      Equating civil rights with gay rights shouldn’t be considered “a stretch” because both parties involved have asked to be judged on the basis of ones character and not their color or sexual orientation. No one , that I know of, has had the option of choosing to be male or female, rich or poor etc, from birth. I know personally about someone who equates being obese as discriminatory as being a person of color – WRONG! Weight can be gained or lost; pigmentation is FOREVER. People of color should do as much to help the GAY community as they would themselves because it is in their overall interest as citizens.

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