Audra McDonald: Making Fun of Grandma Helped Billie Holiday Role
Six time Tony Award winning actress Audra McDonald stopped by the Late Show with David Letterman on Wednesday, where she spoke on her current Billie Holiday role on Broadway, how she used to pass out during performances and more.
Audra recently made history at the Tony Awards as the first actor ever to snag six Tonys, and four Tonys in all four acting categories.
She won her latest trophy for her portrayal as the late Billie Holiday in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, which has now been extended to August 31.
She told Letterman that it was easier for her to capture Billie’s unique voice because she and her sister used to make fun of their grandmother as children.
“I stumbled upon some rehearsal tapes that had her just sorta chatting with her band in the 50s, and she had been quite relaxed and she had been drinking a little and I noticed she sounding a lot like my grandmother, her speaking voice… My sister and I used to make fun of my grandmother’s speaking voice to her face… We’d get in trouble from time to time… So I figured if I start by trying to sound like nana, maybe I can go from there to sounding like Billie. And that was my way in, so I’m very grateful to my grandmother.”