Born in Berlin, Germany and raised in Fresno, California, the elder of two
daughters, Audra McDonald began to study acting at a young age to counteract her
diagnosis as "hyperactive." Audra McDonald studied classical voice as an
undergraduate at the Juilliard School of Music, graduating in 1993.
Audra became a three-time Tony Award winner by the age of 28 - for her performances in Carousel, Master Class, and Ragtime - placing her alongside Shirley Booth, Gwen Verdon, and Zero Mostel by accomplishing this feat within five years. Audra McDonald was nominated for another Tony Award for her performance in Marie Christine before she won her fourth in 2004 for her role in A Raisin in the Sun, placing her in the company of other four-time winning actresses Angela Lansbury, Gwen Verdon, and Mary Martin.
While well known for her singing abilities, she has won acclaim for her dramatic performances as well. In 2001, Audra McDonald received an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or TV Movie for the HBO film Wit starring Emma Thompson and directed by Mike Nichols. Audra McDonald also has appeared on Homicide: Life on the Street, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years, the short-lived Mister Sterling and Kidnapped, and in the 1999 television remake of Annie as Daddy Warbucks' secretary Miss Farrell. She rang in the new year 2007 with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in a concert of music from the movies televised Live from Lincoln Center by PBS.
On the big screen, Audra has appeared in Best Thief in the World (2004), It Runs in the Family (2003), Cradle Will Rock (1999), The Object of My Affection (1998), and Seven Servants (1996).
Audra has recorded four solo albums for Nonesuch Records. Audra's first, the 1998 Way Back to Paradise, featured songs written by a new generation of musical theatre composers who had achieved varying degrees of prominence in the 1990s, particularly Michael John LaChiusa, Adam Guettel, and Jason Robert Brown. Her subsequent albums, How Glory Goes and Happy Songs have featured more traditional theater and cabaret songs along with some songs by these new composers. Her fourth album, Build a Bridge, features primarily pop songs by such singer-songwriters as Elvis Costello, Nellie McKay, Neil Young, Rufus Wainwright, and Randy Newman.
Audra McDonald frequently appears in concert and has performed with a number of the most prestigious orchestras worldwide.
Audra married bassist Peter Donovan in 2000. They have one daughter, Zoe Madeline.
Audra is scheduled to perform as Jenny in the Los Angeles Opera production of Kurt Weill's Mahagonny and as Lizzie in the Roundabout Theatre Company's revival of 110 in the Shade, directed by Lonny Price at Studio 54, in the spring of 2007.
Additional awards and nominations for Audra McDonald
2004 Drama League Award (A Raisin in the Sun, nominee)
2004 Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play (A Raisin in the Sun, winner)
2004 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play (A Raisin in the Sun, winner)
2001 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Performance in a Variety Series/Special (Audra McDonald in Concert, nominee)
1995 Ovation Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play (Master Class, winner)
1994 Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical (Carousel, winner)
1994 Theatre World Award (Carousel, winner)
1994 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical (Carousel, winner)
Additional recordings for Audra McDonald
Dreamgirls in Concert (Concert Cast Recording) (2001)
Bright Eyed Joy: The Songs of Ricky Ian Gordon (2001)
Sweeney Todd Live at the New York Philharmonic (2000)
Marie Christine (Original Cast Recording) (1999)
Wonderful Town (Studio Recording) (1999)
Ragtime (Original Cast Recording) (1998)
Carousel (Broadway Revival Cast Recording) (1994)
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