Audra McDonald reveals past suicide attempt

followspot Profile Photo
Broadway Star
... that and more. Nice interview. Love her honesty.
"Tracy... Hold Mama's waffles."
brettarnett Profile Photo
Wow, love her.

On a side note, a month seems like quite a long time. Though, I know that insurance companies try to get people out of mental health services as fast as they can today.
best12bars Profile Photo
Broadway Legend
I feel sad that she came so close to ending her life. Her story is a little disturbing outside of that, when she talks about Juilliard and their "support" of her situation.

“Juilliard was like … ‘We think that that musical theater thing is more for you anyway. That seems to be where you’re the happiest,’” explained McDonald ...

"Jaws is the Citizen Kane of movies."
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StageManager2 Profile Photo
Broadway Legend
best12bars, what's wrong with that?
Salve, Regina, Mater misericordiae
Vita, dulcedo, et spes nostra
Salve, Salve Regina
Ad te clamamus exsules filii Eva
Ad te suspiramus, gementes et flentes
O clemens O pia
best12bars Profile Photo
Broadway Legend
Either the way she phrased it or the way they phrased it sounds harsh to me, following a suicide attempt.

Why don't you go off and do "that musical theatre thing" for awhile, sounds like a putdown or at the very least a condescension.
"Jaws is the Citizen Kane of movies."
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GlindatheGood22  Profile Photo
Broadway Legend
As Rhett Butler says, a very great lady.

Imagine having missed this brilliant career.
I leave the room smiling.
Chorus Member
best12bars, I took that comment as supportive. The musical theater opportunity was a less stressful way of continuing to develop as a performer while continuing to heal. I'm not saying that a tour isn't a bunch of hard work and long hours, but the expectations are clear. If you deliver, you get a pat on the back and a paycheck. The final year of a music program like Julliard is pretty intense and demanding. The expectations there are huge and kind of open ended. Then there is the constant competition from really driven people. I suspect they deal with a pretty good number of student breaking under the pressure. I'm just so happy she made it through that experience intact and that she finished her program. I'm sure after all of that it felt really good for her to do it.
dreaming Profile Photo
Broadway Legend
She started as an opera singer. I think opera singers/opera teachers tend to look down on musical theater (huge opera stars like Fleming make a ton of money-it's seen as more high brow and certainly higher paying and I think there's a sense of opera stars being higher up on the totem pole than musical theater ones). However, there are far less opportunities to succeed in opera (a relative by marriage is a trained coloratura who has an extraordinary voice-won singing competitions-but gave it up because for every 1 person who makes it, another 99 don't-as she put it there is a 1 in 100 chance-maybe less-of making it). I don't know if color blind casting was really an option when Audra was at Julliard, either-it's become a recent phenomenon. I'm not certain Audra would be a huge opera star the way she is in theater. It is tougher to break out in opera and it's a more grueling field (you travel a lot more). For someone who could cross over, musical theater is an option. I don't like the dressing down as it were that theater seems to get from opera (actually some opera stars-Flemming and Dessay-are turning to theater now). Maybe that will curb the attitude some.
best12bars Profile Photo
Broadway Legend
I get that there are a bunch of "opera snobs" or "classically trained snobs" in the world and at Juilliard. And they have a world-class program, so (I suppose) their arrogance can be backed up even if it isn't necessary.

I just think the comment (if she wasn't paraphrasing or if she was more or less capturing the gist of their meaning) was ill-timed, harsh, and classless.

To me, it implies, "Well, if you can't cut it right now, honey, go do something simpler that makes you happy." You know, "that musical theatre thing."

Glad it worked out for her just a little bit.
"Jaws is the Citizen Kane of movies."
blocked: logan2, Diamonds3
wickedfan Profile Photo
Broadway Legend
I do think McDonald is paraphrasing. Even so, I find it pretty much in character for them in that situation considering what McDonald has said about Julliard's attitude on musical theatre when she was training.

She has stated in interviews and in Nothing Like a Dame (where, as far as I know, she first mentioned her suicide attempt) that Julliard was not only very strict but also very unsupportive for a long time during her training. Instead of going to opera companies to apprentice over the summers, she would audition for summer stock and other regional theaters. Julliard kept reprimanding her and told her she would never make it in the opera world if she continued in this fashion (I think even some teachers told her flat out she had no future in opera). Then, when they realized the extent of the damage they had caused her, they took a step back and said that they could see where her true passions were. She could always finish her training, and they would wait for her, but they didn't want to keep her from what was clearly making her happy.

Julliard tried to mold her the second she walked through those doors and was extremely harsh when she showed signs of wanting to move away from it. It wasn't until it was almost too late for them to take a step back and see what was right for McDonald in her life, not just as a Julliard student.
"Sing the words, Patti!!!!" Stephen Sondheim to Patti LuPone.
uncageg Profile Photo
Broadway Legend
She also discussed this on CBS Sunday morning a few months ago.
Just give the world Love.

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