Audra McDonald just shattered a glass ceiling in theater in the graceful, powerful way her acting has been shaking stages for years. McDonald just won a Tony for her portrayal of Billie Holiday in Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill, putting her total up to six Tony Awards, the most awards given to a single performer for acting. Prior to tonight's win, Audra was neck-and-neck with Angela Lansbury, who she rightfully beat tonight.
Beyond Billie, Audra has portrayed lead roles in iconic musicals and plays like, A Raisin in the Sun, Carousel, Ragtime, and Porgy and Bess. Audra's award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play pushes her six Tonys above the previous record held by Julia Harris — who won six awards, but one was a Lifetime Achievement Award. Harold Prince still holds the largest number of Tonys overall, racking up 21 medallions for acting, directing, and producing, but if Audra ever turns her focus behind the curtain, she could easily give him a run for his money.
Audra's speech was short, but moving. She began crying the kind of tears that can only come from paying off years of hard work while the audience gave a standing ovation. She thanked her family, her costars, and Billie Holiday herself, for providing a role model of a strong, successful woman in showbiz. Congrats, Audra, and we're excited to see you continue to break Broadway records.