On July 9, Audra McDonald joins Sherrilyn Ifill, President of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, in conversation for Black Theatre United‘s event “Activating Black Artists & Allies for Racial Justice.” BTU invites members and allies to participate in this Virtual Town Hall, which aims to harness the power of the collective voice in an effort to enact change. This live-streamed event begins at 6:30 pm ET, is free to attend. Click here to register.
On June 26, Audra appeared on PBS NewsHour in a segment calling for racial equality on Broadway.
Audra recently won “Best Actor in a Play on Broadway” in the inaugural Antonyo Awards for her role in Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune. Of the Awards Audra tells PBS that there’s a desire and want to “be together and celebrate in any way that we can…we can celebrate and we can rally to make change.”
PBS also highlighted Black Theatre United, an organization in which Audra is a founding member. Describing the mission of BTU, Audra notes, “there’s not a lot of black stage managers, in wardrobe, on the crew, in casting offices…so many of us are oftentimes the only one in the room… [we need] to give ourselves a greater voice and then at the same time concentrate on what we can do to change the theatrical landscape.”
On June 16, Audra McDonald and a coalition of professionals from across the theatre industry announced the launch of Black Theatre United, an organization whose mission is to inspire reform and combat systemic racism within the theatre community and throughout the nation.
Comprised of performers, writers, directors, stage managers, and more, Black Theatre United’s mission states:
“As members of the black theatre community we stand together to help protect black people, black talent, and black lives of all shapes and orientations in theatre and communities across the country. Our voices are united to empower our community through activism in the pursuit of justice and equality for the betterment of all humanity. We need every voice lifted and every heart opened, aligned with ours to fight against racist ideologies that have divided us by devaluing our lives. We will not be silent. We will be seen. We will be heard. We are here. Join Us.”
Emphasizing four goals—awareness, accountability, advocacy, and action—BTU will work at the community and national levels to elevate anti-racist causes and support the Black community through various resources and initiatives.
On June 17, Audra McDonald joins Gaylene Kanoyton, Audrey Cash, and Jeanine Abrams McLean for a virtual Zoom event through FairCount.Org and The Links titled “Count Us Forreal: Sisters Sip”. Starting at 7 pm EST, the ladies will discuss what it means to show up for the community while prioritizing overall health. This event is part of Fair Count’s “virtual Juneteenth census celebration week,” which aims to celebrate black people and their history. Fair Count is an organization committed to helping communities with little to no internet access get connected in preparation for the first ever online census in 2020. For more information on Fair Count and to join in for the June 17 event, click here. For a full list of events, visit Fair Count’s website.
This July, Audra McDonald voices civil rights journalist and activist Ida B. Wells in a new PBS documentary about the women’s suffrage movement. Titled The Vote, the film “charts American women’s determined march to the ballot box, and illuminates the myriad social, political and cultural obstacles that stood in their path,” according to PBS. Joining Audra are actors Laura Linney, Mae Whitman, and Patricia Clarkson who voice several other prominent figures of the movement. The documentary premieres in two parts on July 6 and 7 on PBS, and is part of the network’s ongoing American Experience series. Click here to see an exclusive first look at the film on People. Tune in to PBS on July 6 and 7 to watch the full feature.
In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, Audra McDonald expressed her confidence that “[Broadway] will be back and stronger than ever.” Hailed by the publication as the “Queen of the quarantine Zoom screen,” Audra spoke about her various virtual fundraising engagements, the strength of the Broadway community and its supporters, and what she is looking forward to most upon New York reopening.
Audra lent some words of encouragement saying, “Broadway is not dead. That’s the thing. People have said Broadway is dead so many other times. No. Broadway is not dead. Broadway is a phoenix and will continue to rise.” She concluded the interview with a word of advice to theater artists everywhere: “Hold on—just hold on. Reach out virtually however you can. If you’re someone who is in the theater, use this time to maybe work on your craft a little bit in your apartment. Practice more. But fear not… Theater is not going anywhere.”