History was made on Sunday night at the 66th Annual Tony Awards when Audra McDonald became the first black actress to ever win five Tony Awards. McDonald tied the overall record held by Angela Lansbury and Julie Harris.
McDonald’s incredible performance as Bess in “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess” earned her the Tony for best leading actress in a musical. Her four previous Tony Awards were for the featured role category for “Carousel,” “Master Class,” “Ragtime,” and “A Raisin in the Sun.”
McDonald grew up in Fresno, California, and many people still remembered the theater star as a young child attending the Roosevelt School of the Arts and Good Company Players.
“I was a little girl with a potbelly and afro puffs, hyperactive and overdramatic. And I found the theater and I found my home,” McDonald said during her emotional acceptance speech.
The Julliard-trained actress had already grabbed three Tony Awards before she was 30 and has been nominated for seven over the past 18 years. In addition to her five Tony Awards, McDonald also has two Grammy Awards, four albums, and two Emmy Award Nominations under her belt.
Even as she choked back tears, McDonald was still able to poke fun during her speech. As she thanked Jerry Frankel and Rebecca Gold for bringing the show together she joked about having the opportunity to “get raped by Phillip Boykin every night and just snort drugs with David Alan Grier every night.” The crowd erupted in laughter as she referred to the different scenes in the musical.
As her speech came to a close, McDonald took the time to thank her fiancé, Will Swenson, and her children whom she referred to as her “wee posse of three.”
Also walking away with Tonys Sunday night were James Corden for his performance in “One Man, Two Guvnors,” Steve Kazee who was deemed the best actor in a musical, and Nina Arianda with the award for best leading actress in a play.