Broadway’s beloved queen, Audra McDonald, will be featured on “Oprah: Where Are They Now?” Saturday, April 9. Of course, right now she’s on Broadway at the Music Box Theatre starring as vaudeville performer “Lottie Gee” in Shuffle Along, or, the Making of The Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed. Plus, she has made her rounds on the talk show circuit from The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon to The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. From June through September, McDonald will be at London’s Wyndham’s Theatre to revive her role in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill.
The 45-year-old artist and six-time Tony Award winner (more than any other actor and the only person to win honors in all four acting categories) will open up to Oprah Winfrey about her journey to Broadway. It wasn’t a smooth road for the aspiring performer, who was interviewed by NBC’s The Wiz Live! star Shanice Williams earlier this year.
McDonald’s interest in theatre began before she was in double-digit age. Soon she knew she wanted to be on Broadway and made her way from Fresno, Calif., to Juilliard School in New York. She enrolled in the classical vocal program and was thrust into opera training, but discouraged from auditioning for musicals.
During the interview she said, “So, here I was finally in New York, literally living on Broadway – my apartment was on Broadway – and I had never been further away from my dreams.”
McDonald said she “hit bottom,” as she battled depression and suicidal thoughts long before coveting three Tony Awards by the time she was 28. Her vocal training paid off; the accomplished singer has released five solo recordings and collected two Grammy Awards for the Los Angeles Opera production of of Kurt Weill’s Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny. McDonald received an Emmy nomination in 2001 for the HBO film Wit, and shared an Emmy Award with producers of the PBS series “Live From Lincoln Center,” of which she has hosted since 2012.
Now, all the goddess of the Great White Way has to fulfill is that coveted EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony) – a club belonging only to 12 individuals.
Tune in to “Oprah: Where Are They Now?” 10/9c for another side of Audra McDonald’s story.