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Meryl Streep

Julianna Margulies

Kate Walsh

Ellen Pompeo

Jeremy Sisto

Matthew Modine

Josh Brolin

Michael Douglas

Jason Alexander

Mariska Hargitay

Audra McDonald Biography

Home > Actresses > M > McDonald, Audra > Biography

Birth Name: Audra McDonald
Born: 07/03/1970
Birth Place: Berlin, DE

Nerves once again played a part in her landing her second major Broadway role. A half-hour before her scheduled audition for the role of a headstrong student who clashes with opera diva Maria Callas, McDonald experienced a panic attack and canceled. When she finally was able to audition, she once again proved impressive. Co-starring opposite the formidable Zoe Caldwell (as Callas), the singer-actress earned her second Tony Award, this time for featured actress in a play. With her career in high drive, McDonald looked into branching to other media. She made her film debut in the small role of an opera singer in "Seven Servants" (1996) and her "Carousel" director, Nicholas Hytner, cast her as a singer at a wedding in "The Object of My Affection" (1997). Her biggest break, though, seemed to occur when she landed the role of Bill Cosby's daughter in the 1996 CBS pilot for his return to sitcoms.

McDonald soon found herself in a dilemma, however. She had been participating in the workshops for the new musical "Ragtime" and the stage show was set to begin rehearsals for its world premiere in Toronto. Faced with this difficult choice, McDonald opted to remain with "Ragtime", playing the brief but memorable role of Sarah, the servant who loves the proud Coalhouse Walker Jr. Proving that her instincts were correct, the role brought her a third Tony and almost nightly ovations for her rendition of the lullaby "Your Daddy's Son". (In fact, as the material was developed, the show's creative team decided to incorporate a flashback sequence in the second act so McDonald would have more time on stage.)

The Cosby family obviously held no grudges as the actress made her TV dramatic debut as the young Bessie Delany in "Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years" (CBS, 1999), which was produced by Camille Cosby. Within a week, she was also seen in the final episode of the NBC drama series "Homicide: Life on the Street", playing the daughter of Yaphet Kotto's police lieutenant Al Giardello. McDonald remained in demand as a stage performer, as well, debuting in fall 1999 in her first leading role in a musical in "Marie Christine", an adaptation of "Medea" set in New Orleans that was written specifically for her by composer Michael John LaChiusa. Although she did earn a Tony nomination for that role, she did not win.

As the new millennium dawned, McDonald divided her time between the concert stage and the small screen. She earned an Emmy nomination for her beautifully rendered performance as a compassionate nurse caring for a terminally ill cancer patient (Emma Thompson) in the HBO adaptation of "Wit" (2001). After a brief time out for motherhood, McDonald returned to the stage to play the Diana Ross-like lead singer in a one-night only benefit concert staging of "Dreamgirls" in fall 2001.