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Audra Mcdonald

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Also Known As: Audra Ann Mcdonald Died:
Born: July 3, 1970 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Berlin, DE Profession: singer, actress

Biography CLOSE THE FULL 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...

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.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
2.
 It Runs in the Family (2003) Sarah Langley
3.
 Wit (2001) Nurse Susan Monahan
4.
 Last Debate, The (2000) Barbara Manning
5.
 Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years (1999) Bessie Delany--In Her 20s
6.
 Cradle Will Rock (1999) 'Joe Worker' Singer (Blitzstein)
7.
 Object of My Affection, The (1998) Wedding Singer
8.
 Seven Servants (1996) Opera Singer
10.
 55th Annual Tony Awards, The (2001) Presenter
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
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
1989:
Made NYC stage debut in "Man of La Mancha"
1991:
Joined the touring production of the musical "The Secret Garden"
1994:
Made Broadway debut in revival of "Carousel" as Carrie Pipperidge; first association with Nicholas Hytner
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"
1996:
Originated the role of Sarah in the Toronto production of "Ragtime"; also appeared on Broadway in 1998
1997:
Had a small role as a singer performing at a wedding in "The Object of My Affection"; directed by Nicholas Hytner
1998:
Recorded first solo album, <i>Way Back to Paradise</i>
1999:
Dramatic TV debut, playing the young Bessie Delany in the CBS TV-movie "Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years"
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:
Played secretary Grace Farrell in the TV remake of "Annie" (ABC)
2000:
Cast as a psychologist in two episodes of the NBC drama "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit"
2000:
Performed in concert with Patti LuPone at the Hollywood Bowl (July)
2001:
Co-starred with Emma Thompson in Mike Nichols' adaptation of the award-winning play "Wit" (HBO); received an Emmy nomination
2001:
Featured in a one-night only benefit concert staging of "Dreamgirls"
2003:
Cast in the short-lived NBC drama "Mister Sterling"
2004:
Cast opposite Sean Combs in the Broadway revival of Lorraine Hansberry's "Raisin in the Sun"
2006:
Sang two solo one-act operas at the Houston Grand Opera
2007:
Cast in the Broadway revival, "110 in the Shade"; received sixth Tony nomination
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
2008:
Reprised role for the ABC television adaptation of "Raisin in the Sun"; earned an Emmy nomination for Supporting Actress
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
2012:
Cast in the crime drama "Rampart" opposite Woody Harrelson
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Theodore Roosevelt High School: Fresno , California -
The Juilliard School: New York , New York - 1993

Notes

"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." --"Ragtime" co-star Brian Stokes Mitchell, quoted in The New York Times, October 27, 1998.

"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.

"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, February 2, 2002.

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
Peter Donovan. Bassist. Together since c. 1992; married in September 2000.

Family close complete family listing

mother:
Anna Kathryn McDonald. Director of affirmative action program at California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo.
daughter:
Zoe Madeline Donovan. Born on February 14, 2001; named for actress Zoe Caldwell.

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