2012 Straight for Equality Entertainment Award:
Earning an unprecedented three Tony Awards before the age of 30 (Carousel, Master Class, Ragtime) and a fourth in 2004 (A Raisin in the Sun), singer and actress Audra McDonald is among today’s most highly regarded performers. Blessed with a luminous soprano voice and an incomparable gift for dramatic truth-telling, she is equally at home on Broadway and opera stages as in roles for film and television. A two-time Grammy Award-winner, she maintains a major career as a concert and recording artist, regularly appearing on the great stages of the world and with leading international orchestras.
In the summer of 2011, after four seasons playing Dr. Naomi Bennett on ABC’s hit television series Private Practice, Audra McDonald turned her focus back to live performance, making her role debut as the title character in a new musical adaptation of the Gershwins’ folk opera, Porgy and Bess. The production ran from August to the end of September at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In December the production transferred to the Richard Rodgers Theatre in New York City, marking McDonald’s first Broadway appearance since 2007. Between the runs in Cambridge and New York, McDonald embarked on a 20-city concert tour across North America. Highlights included season-opening concerts at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, the Celebrity Series in Boston, as well as performances at Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center and New York’s Carnegie Hall.
A prominent advocate for marriage equality, McDonald joined Twitter to promote the cause, naming her Twitter handle @AudraEqualityMc. She sits on the advisory board for the marriage equality advocacy organization Broadway Impact. In June 2011 she sang at the Democratic National Committee’s LGBT Leadership Dinner, hosted by Neal Patrick Harris, in New York City. Guests included President Barack Obama, Cynthia Nixon, and Cheyenne Jackson.
Days before the groundbreaking decision to legalize same-sex marriage in New York, McDonald and Mario Batali joined pro-marriage-equality marchers in the fight for equal rights and lobbied New York state senators at New York’s state capital building in Albany. And on Sunday, July 24, 2011 McDonald sang at New York City Hall employee John Feinblatt and Commissioner for Consumer Affairs Jonathan Mintz’s wedding reception. Officiated by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the wedding marked one of the first gay marriages in the state of New York
But of all her many roles, her favorite is that of mother to her daughter, Zoe Madeline.
>>Learn more about Audra McDonald's co-honoree, Will Swenson.