Five Times Golden: Audra McDonald Makes History At The Tony Awards

By Arturo R. García

Audra McDonald calls the theater her home. Sunday night she took her place at the head of the table.

McDonald’s star turn in a revival of Porgy & Bess culminated in her winning the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical, the fifth Tony of her career. But as Shadow and Act’s Tambay reported Monday, not only has McDonald reached some rarified air–she’s only the third woman ever (and first woman of color) to win this many Tonys–but she’s done so with shocking efficiency: she’s appeared in only 10 Broadway productions since 1991.

“To help put this into some perspective,” Tambay writes, “imagine a Hollywood actress making 10 movies over a 20 year period, and winning Academy Awards (whether supporting or lead) for her performances in 5 of them.”

Tambay also raises a good question–where could McDonald, who also has two Grammy Awards and two Emmy Award nominations under her belt, go from here? One tantalizing possibility: Aretha Franklin reportedly wants McDonald to play her in a movie. For now, at least, McDonald’s run in Porgy & Bess has been extended thru September. A transcript of McDonald’s acceptance speech from Sunday night is under the cut.

I was a little a girl with a potbelly and afro puffs, hyperactive and overdramatic. And I found the theater and I found my home. And I found a place to express myself and I was so grateful, even at the age of nine. And to think that the theater would be so good to me is mind-blowing. I’m so grateful to be a part of this company, “Porgy and Bess”–Diane Paulus and Jeffrey [Richards] and Rebecca [Gold] and Jerry [Frankel] for bringing the show to us. To be in love with Norm Lewis every night, to get raped by Phillip Boykin every night, to snort drugs with David Alan Grier every night, and the entire company, they are filled with light, and soul and spirit. They move me.

I wanna thank my family. I wanna thank the man I’m gonna marry, Will Swenson, for telling me to do this. I’m so glad I listened to you. I wanna thank my wee posse of three. And Zoe, my sweet little girl, I want you to know something: this is an amazing night for Mommy. But February 14th, 2001, the day you were born, is still the best night ever. Never forget that. I love you. Thank you so very much.

  • Rgard

    I like but the part where she says to  get raped every night IS problematic

  • vee

    She’s nearly half-way through an EGOT (Emmy Grammy Oscar Tony) as introduced in 30 Rock as a concept. She seems talented enough to bag the rest of the awards, so why not? 

    More seriously, though, that is an amazing achievement. Go Audra! :D

  • Kachi

    her speech is awesome! Her daughter shares a Bday with my cousin <3

  • miga

    I saw Porgy and Bess a few weeks ago- Audra’s performance was so incredibly gorgeous I wanted to cry.  She is the kind of actrees I want to be.  I’ve cut out a picture of her with her Tony and put it on my cubicle wall to encourage me to keep up the dream.  You GO Audra!!!