Last night Audra McDonald walked away with the Tony Award for best lead actress in a musical for her role in The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess. She also made history as the first African-American actress to win five Tony Awards, tying the long-standing record held by Broadway legends Angela Lansbury and Julie Harris.
“I was a little a girl with a potbelly and afro puffs, hyperactive and over-dramatic. And I found the theater and I found my home,” McDonald said during her acceptance speech. “To think that the theater would be so good to me is mind-blowing.”
McDonald’s latest win was her first Tony Award as a leading actress. Her previous wins were in the featured role category for Carousel (1994), Master Class (1996), Ragtime (1998), and A Raisin in the Sun (2004).
Trained at The Juilliard School in New York City, she won three Tony Awards before the age of 30, and has two Grammy Awards and two Emmy Award nominations. The 41-year-old actress has been appearing in theatrical productions and in films for nearly two decades, but has yet to become a household name. With this, McDonald’s first Tony award for lead actress, is it finally her time to shine?
Her last significant on-screen role was in 2011, with a small part in the film Rampart which starred Woody Harrelson and Ice Cube. Other feature films she has appeared in include: The Object of My Affection (1998), Cradle Will Rock (1999), It Runs in the Family (2003), and Best Thief in the World (2004). In 2008 she starred alongside Sean Combs, Sanaa Latham, and Phylicia Rashad in the made for TV movie version of A Raisin in the Sun, which earned her an Emmy nomination.
She has appeared on several television shows, including Homicide: Life on the Street, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Grey’s Anatomy, Kidnapped and most recently starred as Naomi Bennett, the ex-wife of Sam, portrayed by Taye Diggs’ in ABC’s Private Practice.
McDonald has been able to successfully gain steady work on-stage, but has yet to take on the role of a leading lady in front of the camera.
Hopefully her recent Tony win might be what changes things and propels her to become a household name, and not just a budding icon of Broadway.
McDonald has no confirmed films or TV shows in the works, but can be seen The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, which was originally scheduled to end on July 8, but has been extended to September 30.
Follow Chris Witherspoon on Twitter at @WitherspoonC