Audra McDonald is unparalleled in the breadth and versatility of her artistry as both a singer and an actor. The winner of a record-breaking six Tony Awards, two Grammy Awards and an Emmy, in 2015 she was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people and received the National Medal of Arts— America’s highest honor for achievement in the field—from President Barack Obama. In addition to her Tony-winning performances in Carousel, Master Class, Ragtime, A Raisin in the Sun, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, and Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill—the role that also served as the vehicle for her Olivier Award-nominated 2017 debut in London’s West End—she has appeared on Broadway in The Secret Garden; Marie Christine; Henry IV; 110 in the Shade; Shuffle Along, or, The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed; Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune; and Ohio State Murders.
On television, she was seen by millions as the Mother Abbess in NBC’s The Sound of Music Live!, won an Emmy Award for her role as host of PBS’s Live From Lincoln Center, and received Emmy nominations for Wit, A Raisin in the Sun, and Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill. Having played Dr. Naomi Bennett on Shonda Rhimes’s Private Practice (ABC) and Liz Reddick (formerly Lawrence) on both The Good Wife (CBS) and The Good Fight (Paramount+), she may now be seen as Dorothy Scott on Julian Fellowes’s The Gilded Age (HBO). On film, she has appeared in Seven Servants, The Object of My Affection, Cradle Will Rock, It Runs in the Family, The Best Thief in the World, She Got Problems, Rampart, Ricki and the Flash, Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast, the movie-musical Hello Again, Cinergistik’s documentary Whitney Houston in Focus, the Obamas’ Higher Ground Productions’ Rustin and MGM’s Aretha Franklin biopic, Respect.
McDonald is a Juilliard-trained soprano, whose opera credits include La voix humaine and Send at Houston Grand Opera, and Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny at Los Angeles Opera, where the resulting recording earned her two Grammy Awards. She has issued five solo albums on the Nonesuch label as well as Sing Happy with the New York Philharmonic on Decca Gold. She also maintains a major career as a concert artist, regularly appearing on the great stages of the world and with leading international orchestras. She is a founding member of Black Theatre United, board member of Covenant House International, and prominent advocate for LGBTQIA+ rights, whose favorite roles are those performed offstage, as an activist, wife to actor Will Swenson, and mother. She made her San Francisco Symphony debut in September 1998.