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The Berklee Visiting Artist Series is a live, interactive forum featuring some of today's most innovative professional performers and creators. These moderated discussions will focus on the topics of artistry, entrepreneurship, and social justice, and students will have the opportunity to actively participate by posing questions directly to guests. This event features a live interview with Tony, Grammy, and Emmy award–winning singer and actor Audra McDonald, moderated by Michael J. Bobbitt, associate professor of theater at Boston Conservatory at Berklee.
Audra McDonald is known for the breadth and versatility of her artistry as a singer and an actor. The winner of a record-breaking six Tony Awards, two Grammy Awards, and an Emmy Award, in 2015 she was named one of Time’s 100 most influential people and received a National Medal of Arts—America’s highest honor for achievement in the field—from President Barack Obama. In addition to her Tony-winning performances in Carousel, Master Class, Ragtime, A Raisin in the Sun, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, and Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill—the role that served as the vehicle for her 2017 debut in London’s West End and got her a 2018 Olivier Award nomination—she has appeared on Broadway in The Secret Garden, Marie Christine (for which she received a Tony nomination), Henry IV, 110 in the Shade (Tony nomination), Shuffle Along, or, The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed, and Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune. A Juilliard-trained soprano, her opera credits include La voix humaine and Send at Houston Grand Opera, and Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny at Los Angeles Opera, where the resulting recording earned her two Grammy Awards. On television, she was seen by millions as the Mother Abbess in NBC’s The Sound of Music Live! and played Dr. Naomi Bennett on ABC’s Private Practice. She won an Emmy Award for her role as host of PBS’s Live from Lincoln Center and has received nominations for Wit, A Raisin in the Sun, and Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill. Having first appeared as Liz Lawrence on CBS’s The Good Wife, she can now be seen on CBS All Access’s The Good Fight. On film, she has appeared in movies including Seven Servants, The Object of My Affection, Cradle Will Rock, It Runs in the Family, and Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast, among many others, and will appear in MGM’s forthcoming Aretha Franklin biopic, Respect. McDonald has released five solo albums on the Nonesuch label as well as Sing Happy with the New York Philharmonic on Decca Gold. She also maintains a major career as a concert artist, regularly appearing on the great stages of the world and with leading international orchestras. A founding member of Black Theatre United, board member of Covenant House International, and prominent advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, her favorite roles are those performed offstage, as an activist, wife to actor Will Swenson, and mother.