Audra Ann McDonald (born July 3, 1970) is an American four-time Tony Award-winning actress and singer. She currently stars in the ABC television drama Private Practice as Dr. Naomi Bennett.
Born in Berlin, Germany and raised in Fresno, California, the elder of two daughters, she began to study acting at a young age to counteract her diagnosis as "hyperactive". McDonald graduated from the Roosevelt School of the Arts program within Theodore Roosevelt High School in Fresno. She got her start in acting with Dan Pessano and Good Company Players, beginning in their Junior Company. "I knew I wanted to be involved in theater when: I had my first chance to perform with the Good Company Players Junior Company.", "The people who have had the most impact on my life: Good Company director Dan Pessano and my mother." She studied classical voice as an undergraduate under Ellen Faull at the Juilliard School, graduating in 1993.
McDonald became a three-time Tony Award winner by the age of 28 — for her performances in Carousel, Master Class, and Ragtime — placing her alongside Shirley Booth, Gwen Verdon and Zero Mostel by accomplishing this feat within five years. She was nominated for another Tony Award for her performance in Marie Christine before she won her fourth in 2004 for her role in A Raisin in the Sun, placing her in the company of other four-time winning actresses Angela Lansbury, Gwen Verdon and Mary Martin. She reprised her Raisin role for a 2008 television adaptation, earning her a second Emmy Award nomination.