Although born in Germany, she was raised in Fresno, California.
Five of her aunts toured in the 1970s as the McDonald Sisters. They sang gospel music.
At her final "Carousel" audition, Audra fainted on stage while singing. She still got the part and went on to win her first Tony Award in 1994.
"Marie Christine," her first starring role on Broadway, was written specifically for her by Michael John LaChiusa after he saw her audition for "Carousel.".
The youngest actor ever to win three Tony Awards.
Graduated from The Juilliard School in 1993.
Daughter Zoe Madeline (pronounced ZO) named after Zoe Caldwell and the late Madeline Kahn, two good friends of McDonald's.
She almost didn't graduate from Juilliard because of her lack of interest in classical music, but with the help of a fellow student, impressed her teachers and went on to become a huge Broadway star.
Husband Peter Donovan also graduated from Juilliard, where they met. He is her bass player, and they do a number together called "Beat My Dog." [Audra has also made several appearances with Evening at Pops (1970), and her concert "Live at the Donmar," (with Peter) was broadcast on PBS, as were three appearances on "Live From Lincoln Center."].
Has won five Tony Awards in 11 years: as Best Actress (FeaturedRole-Musical) in 1994 for a revival of "Carousel," in 1998 for playing Sarah in Ragtime," as Best Actress (Featured Role-Play) in 1996 for playing Sharon in Terrence McNally's "Master Class," and in 2004 for her portrayal of Ruth Younger in a revival of Lorraine Hansberry's "A Raisin in the Sun." Audra won her fifth Tony award in the Leading Actress in a musical category for playing BESS in the Tony winning revival of The Gershwin's Porgy and Bess in 2012. She was also nominated in 2000 as Best Actress (Musical) for playing the title role in "Marie Christine" and in 2007 for playing Lizzie Curry in a revival of "110 in the Shade.".
Gave birth to her 1st child at age 30, a daughter named Zoe Madeline Donovan on February 14, 2001. Child's father is her now ex-1st husband, Peter Donovan.
Sister-in-law of Robert Swenson.
(10/6/2012) Married her boyfriend of two years, Will Swenson. It is the second marriage for both.
In June 2014, Audra McDonald won a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play, for playing Billie Holiday in "Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill." This was her sixth Tony Award win, and it meant that she set a number of records. She is now the first performer, male or female, to win six competitive Tonys (Julie Harris also had six Tonys, but one was honorary). McDonald is also the only performer ever to win Tonys in all four possible acting categories: Best Leading Performance in both a play and a musical and Best Supporting Performance in both a play and a musical.
Attended Roosevelt School of the Arts in Fresno with Christopher Gorham, Matthew Floyd Miller, Kurando Mitsutake, James Runcorn, and Mick Wingert.
Suffered from long term severe depression and admitted she once attempted to take her own life in her early twenties.
She was awarded the 1995 Los Angeles Stage Alliance Ovation Award for Best Featured Actress for "Master Class" in a Gordon Davidson/Mark Taper Forum production at the Mark Taper Forum Theatre in Los Angeles, California.
She was awarded the 2016 National Medal of the Arts for her services and contributions to theatre.
Gave birth to her 2nd child at age 46, a daughter named Sally James McDonald-Swenson on October 19, 2016. Child's father is her husband, Will Swenson.
In May 2016, while she was starring in the Broadway musical "Shuffle Along," McDonald announced that she would need to take a break from appearing in the show because, at 45, she unexpectedly found herself pregnant. She tweeted, "Who knew that tap dancing during perimenopause could lead 2 pregnancy? @thewillswenson & I are completely surprised but elated 2 b expecting." Although the producers ultimately decided to close the show because McDonald had to leave it, McDonald did perform a vigorous song-and-tap dance routine at that year's Tony Awards, while six months pregnant.