Actress Audra McDonald made Broadway history last night (June 8) at the Tony Awards. McDonald took home the trophy for Best Lead Actress for her portrayal of Billie Holiday in the production Lady Day At Emerson’s Bar & Grill. She also becoming the Awards’ most decorated actress, winning her sixth Tony. She tops Angela Lansbury and Julie Harris, who have bagged five awards respectively.
During her emotional speech, McDonald thanked her parents for “disobeying the doctor’s orders and not medicating their hyperactive girl and finding out what she was into instead and pushing her into the theatre”. The actress also thanked African American luminaries Lena Horne, Diane Carroll, and Ruby Dee for paving the way in music and the arts. McDonald capped off her speech with a special message to Billie Holiday, saying, “You deserved so much more than you were given when you were on this planet. This is for you Billie! Thank you so much.”
The night wasn’t complete without some over-the-top laughs. X Men veteran and Tony Awards host Hugh Jackman made his hip-hop debut with T.I. and LL Cool J for a contemporary take on the song “Rock Island” from the 1962 production The Music Man. The tuxedo clad trio took turns rapping to an elastic Questlove-produced beat. Home audiences and actors alike gave the performance mixed reviews. One thing is for certain: it definitely wasn’t boring.
Catch McDonald’s speech and a special recap of the Awards show below.