Audra McDonald

Actress, Singer
Audra McDonald emerged as one of the premiere musical performers on Broadway before tackling other media. The Berlin-born, Fresno-raised mezzo-soprano began her performing career at age nine in local dinner theaters. At ... Read more »
Born: 07/02/1970 in Berlin, DE

Filmography

Actor (48)

Lady Day At Emerson's Bar and Grill 2014 - 2015 (TV Show)

Actor

Ricki and the Flash 2015 (Movie)

Maureen (Actor)

Christmas in Rockefeller Center 2013 - 2014 (TV Show)

Performer

Six by Sondheim 2013 - 2014 (TV Show)

Performer

The 68th Annual Tony Awards 2013 - 2014 (TV Show)

Presenter

The Late Show With David Letterman 2014 (Tv Show)

Guest

The Sound of Music Live! 2013 - 2014 (TV Show)

Actor

Private Practice 2007 - 2011, 2013 (Tv Show)

Actor

The 67th Annual Tony Awards 2012 - 2013 (TV Show)

Presenter

The 34th Annual Kennedy Center Honors 2011 - 2012 (TV Show)

Performer

The 66th Annual Tony Awards 2011 - 2012 (TV Show)

Performer

Homicide: Life on the Street 1998 - 1999, 2007 - 2011 (Tv Show)

Actor

Grey's Anatomy 2009 (Tv Show)

Actor

The 63rd Annual Tony Awards 2008 - 2009 (TV Show)

Actor

A Raisin in the Sun 2007 - 2008 (TV Show)

Actor

The 39th Annual NAACP Image Awards 2007 - 2008 (TV Show)

Actor

Kidnapped 2006 - 2007 (Tv Show)

Actor

The 61st Annual Tony Awards 2006 - 2007 (TV Show)

Actor

The Bedford Diaries 2005 - 2006 (TV Show)

Actor

The Best Thief in the World 2004 - 2005 (TV Show)

Actor

Great Performances: Walt Disney Concert Hall 2003 - 2004 (TV Show)

Actor

It Runs in the Family 2003 (Movie)

Sarah Langley (Actor)

Mister Sterling 2002 - 2003 (TV Show)

Actor

Evening at Pops 1969 - 2002 (TV Show)

Actor

The 55th Annual Tony Awards 2000 - 2001 (TV Show)

Actor

A Capitol Fourth 2000 1999 - 2000 (TV Show)

Actor

Annie (TV) 1999 - 2000 (TV Show)

Actor

Audra McDonald in Concert 1999 - 2000 (TV Show)

Actor

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit 2000 (Tv Show)

Actor

My Favorite Broadway: The Leading Ladies 1999 - 2000 (TV Show)

Actor

Audra McDonald 1998 - 1999 (TV Show)

Actor

Broadway '99: Launching the Tony Awards 1998 - 1999 (TV Show)

Actor

Carnegie Hall Opening Night 1998 1998 - 1999 (TV Show)

Actor

Christmas in Washington 1998 - 1999 (TV Show)

Actor

Cradle Will Rock 1999 (Movie)

'Joe Worker' Singer (Actor)

The 53rd Annual Tony Awards 1998 - 1999 (TV Show)

Actor

A Walk Down 42nd Street With David Hartman 1997 - 1998 (TV Show)

Actor

Creating Ragtime 1997 - 1998 (TV Show)

Actor

The 52nd Annual Tony Awards 1997 - 1998 (TV Show)

Actor

The Object of My Affection 1998 (Movie)

Wedding Singer (Actor)

Leonard Bernstein's New York 1996 - 1997 (TV Show)

Actor

Seven Servants 1996 (Movie)

Opera Singer (Actor)

The Last Debate (TV Show)

Actor

Wit (TV Show)

Actor
Music (1)

Carnegie Hall Opening Night 1998 1998 - 1999 (TV Show)

Song Performer

Biography

Audra McDonald emerged as one of the premiere musical performers on Broadway before tackling other media. The Berlin-born, Fresno-raised mezzo-soprano began her performing career at age nine in local dinner theaters. At the urging of her educator parents, McDonald enrolled at Juilliard as a voice student, but she secretly harbored the desire to perform on Broadway. She has been candid about finding opera studies difficult ("I had danced around the room singing to Barbra Streisand. That's what I wanted to do," she told The New York Times, August 30, 1998). Taking what she termed a "mental sabbatical", McDonald auditioned for and landed a role in the touring company of the musical "The Secret Garden". In June 1993, she was asked to audition for the proposed revival of "Carousel"; when she opened her mouth to sing, she fainted. Recovering, McDonald went on to impress the producers and, in a bit of non-traditional casting, landed the role of Carrie Pipperidge. While there were a handful of people who had problems with a black woman playing the role opposite a white man, McDonald and her stunning performance impressed audiences and critics. At the end of the season, she won almost every conceivable award as featured actress in a musical, including the Tony Award.

Relationships

Peter Donovan

Husband
Together since c. 1992 Married Sept. 10, 2000 Divorced 2009

Zoe Donovan

Daughter
Born Feb. 14, 2001; father, Peter Donovan

Stanley McDonald

Father
Died May 2007 when an experimental aircraft he was flying crashed north of Sacramento, CA

Anna McDonald

Mother
Director of affirmative action program at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, CA

Will Swenson Actor

Companion
Met 2007 while co-starring in the Roundabout Theatre Company's production of "110 in the Shade" Engaged Jan. 1, 2012 Married Oct. 6, 2012

EDUCATION

The Juilliard School

New York , New York 1993
Took a one-term sabbatical and then a semester off in 1991 to tour with "The Secret Garden"

Theodore Roosevelt High School

Fresno , California
Enrolled in the Roosevelt School of the Arts program, a district-wide magnet school program within the high school

Milestones

2012

Cast in the crime drama "Rampart" opposite Woody Harrelson

2011

Returned to Broadway to star in a new production of the George Gershwin and DuBose Heyward opera "Porgy and Bess" at the American Repertory Theater

2008

Reprised role for the ABC television adaptation of "Raisin in the Sun"; earned an Emmy nomination for Supporting Actress

2007

Joined the "Grey’s Anatomy" spinoff series, "Private Practice" (ABC) as Dr. Naomi Bennett; replaced Merrin Dungey, who played the role in the series pilot

2007

Cast in the Broadway revival, "110 in the Shade"; received sixth Tony nomination

2006

Sang two solo one-act operas at the Houston Grand Opera

2004

Cast opposite Sean Combs in the Broadway revival of Lorraine Hansberry's "Raisin in the Sun"

2003

Cast in the short-lived NBC drama "Mister Sterling"

2001

Featured in a one-night only benefit concert staging of "Dreamgirls"

2001

Co-starred with Emma Thompson in Mike Nichols' adaptation of the award-winning play "Wit" (HBO); received an Emmy nomination

2000

Performed in concert with Patti LuPone at the Hollywood Bowl (July)

2000

Cast as a psychologist in two episodes of the NBC drama "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit"

1999

Appeared in the final episode of the NBC drama series "Homicide: Life on the Street"

1999

First starring role in the musical "Marie Christine"; received Tony nomination as Actress in a Musical

1999

Dramatic TV debut, playing the young Bessie Delany in the CBS TV-movie "Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years"

1999

Played secretary Grace Farrell in the TV remake of "Annie" (ABC)

1998

Recorded first solo album, Way Back to Paradise

1997

Had a small role as a singer performing at a wedding in "The Object of My Affection"; directed by Nicholas Hytner

1996

Originated the role of Sarah in the Toronto production of "Ragtime"; also appeared on Broadway in 1998

1996

Made film debut as an opera singer in "Seven Servants"

1996

Cast as a student of Maria Callas in the original Broadway production of "Master Class"

1994

Made Broadway debut in revival of "Carousel" as Carrie Pipperidge; first association with Nicholas Hytner

1991

Joined the touring production of the musical "The Secret Garden"

1989

Made NYC stage debut in "Man of La Mancha"

Began performing as a child with a youth group that performed at local dinner theaters

Moved to NYC to study classical voice at the Juilliard School of Music

Bonus Trivia

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"She's a very giving artist with almost no ego. If anything, she's been very resistant to outside forces telling her how great she is." – Brian Stokes Mitchell, co-star of "Ragtime" to The New York Times, Oct. 27, 1998

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"Audra McDonald, not yet 30, has it all – voice, looks, charisma, three Tony awards, and the rare quality of awakening powerful emotions in every audience that hears her. McDonald has arrived on Broadway with the kind of quality no singing actress has rivaled since Streisand went onstage as Miss Marmelstein in 'I Can Get It for You Wholesale' and walked off as a star." – from The Boston Globe, June 3, 1999

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"When you have a baby, your voice changes a bit. It's a brand-new instrument. I'm seeing different colors coming in; it has different boundaries. I'm feeling freer with it than I felt before, which is exciting." – McDonald quoted in The Boston Globe, Feb. 2, 2002

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