Six-Time Tony Award Winner Audra McDonald Graces First ESSENCE Cover!
Dennis Leupold

Audra McDonald was destined for greatness.

The Broadway legend graces the cover of our April issue, where she admits that she was a bit of a drama queen growing up (“If it was raining, I’d freak out and think it was a monsoon,” she explains). But instead of stifling her, her parents opted to channel that over-the-top energy, signing her up for a dinner-theater company.

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“All of a sudden, everything clicked for me,” she said. “I felt normal. I had found my place.”

Though her passion for the stage flourished, the road to success was anything but easy. The singer-actress attended Julliard for opera, but she quickly realized that that wasn’t her calling. In fact, she even attempted suicide.

It didn’t take long for McDonald to find her footing. And now, 16 years after her suicide attempt, she is among the most lauded actresses on Broadway and boasts a record-breaking six Tony Awards. She is also a one-time Emmy winner.

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“I thought I would feel different [after winning my sixth Tony]—that I would finally figure out how to organize my underwear drawer,” she said. “I’m grateful and blown away by it all, but I’m still me. I still have work to do.”

The April issue of ESSENCE hits newsstands on 3/18. For more on this month’s issue, visit

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