By Tambay Obenson | Shadow and Act June 12, 2012 at 11:31AM
Congratulations are in order for Audra McDonald who made history during last night's Tony Awards celebration, becoming the first black woman to claim 5 Tony Award wins; last night's pickup for Best Leading Actress In A Musical (for Porgy & Bess), also tied the record held by Angela Lansbury and Julie Harris.
I should note that she's just 41 years old, and, according to IBDB.com (the Internet Broadway Database), she's appeared in just 10 Broadway shows, starting in 1991 through the pressent. Talk about talent and recognition; 10 Broadway shows, and she won Tony Awards for her performances in half of them. To help put this into some perspective, imagine a Hollywood actress making 10 movies over a 20 year period, and winning Academy Awards (whether supporting or lead) for her performances in 5 of them.
You'd think that maybe all that talent and success would transfer to TV and/or film, but it hasn't quite done so. Her last big screen role was a minor, thankless part in last year's Rampart. On TV, she was on the Shonda Rhimes-created ABC medical drama Private Practice from 2007 to 2011 (although from what I hear, she was under-utilized), before leaving to head back to Broadway to star in Porgy & Bess.
She also appeared in some TV movies - Wit in 2001, and A Raisin In The Sun in 2008; she received Emmy nominations for her performances in both TV movies - Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie; so almost everything she's touched, whether on screen or on stage, has been critically recognized, and you'd think that she'd be appearing in far more work than she is currently, especially in what we'd call leading lady roles, both on TV and in film.
I think of Viola Davis being in a similar position; black woman actress, routinely critically lauded for her performances (stage, TV and film), and still relatively under-used - until very recently anyway (part of that being due to her own proactive efforts in forming a producton company, and packaging projects for herself).
But I suppose that's a song one could also sing for a few other lesser-known actresses.
However, with last night's historic win - a win that will hopefully help raise even further awareness of her and her abilities - I'd expect to see Audra get more looks for TV and film projects. Glancing over her IMDBPro page, she has absolutely nothing listed in the "Projects in development" category; however, I should note that the musical's run, which was originally scheduled to end on July 8, was extended to September 30 - an almost 3-month extension, which suggests that it must be doing really well for them to have that much confidence that it'll continue through the fall.