"I am honored and grateful and I'm super thrilled for the production as a whole to get so many nominations. I am so proud of this production and thankful to the Tony nominating committee for recognizing all aspects of the show. I got the news via text message. As usual, it was up at 6:15 for me to get the kids to school and I was back in bed by 8! Will was here though so it was nice to roll over when I got the news and say "Hey I got a nomination!" Then we both conked out again. When we finally got up I asked him to be my date for the Tonys - he said yes! - so I guess that was our little celebration. Now it's back to being a mom for the day and get ready for the show tonight. I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone at the theater tonight to congratulate them."
Born in Berlin, Germany on July 3, 1970, McDonald grew up in Fresno, CA. McDonald, the older of two daughters, began her life in theatre at a young age as a way to counteract a diagnosis of "hyperactive." McDonald performed in many productions as a youth and regionally as Aldonza in Man of La Mancha, in addition to other regional roles. McDonald is a 1993 graduate of Julliard., where she earned the nickname "Muffy," for her bubbly personality. She admits that, while she struggled at Julliard, it proved to be the best foundation for her. While in Julliard, McDonald received her first major role as a replacement Ayah in Secret Garden. McDonald was cast as Carrie Pepperidge in the Nicholas Hytner
production of Carousel in 1994, the first time an African-American woman has performed the role. McDonald received her first Tony for this portrayal. She followed up this success as Sharon in Master Class in 1995. This role won McDonald her second Tony award, as well as a mentor in Zoe Caldwell
, who portrayed Marie Callas in the play. Her third Tony award came for her performance in 1998 as Sarah, the love interest of Brian Stokes Mitchell
's Colehouse Walker Jr. McDonald became a three time Tony winner by the age of 28, placing her alongside Shirley Booth
, Gwen Verdon
and Zero Mostel
in accomplishing this feat within five years.
In 1999, McDonald performed as Marie Christine L'Adrese in Michael John LaChiusa's Marie Christine, a retelling of Medea set in New Orleans. She received a Tony nomination for this role. In 2001, McDonald portrayed Deena Jones in the 20th Anniversary Benefit Concert for the Actor's Fund of Dreamgirls alongside Lillias White and Heather Headley. The following year, McDonald switched roles in the Carousel in Concert production, portraying Julie Jordan alongside Hugh Jackman as Billy Bigalow. 2003 saw McDonald's return to full-scale productions on Broadway as she portrayed Lady Percy in the Lincoln Center production of Henry IV. She received her fourth Tony award for her performance as Ruth Younger in the revival of Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun. McDonald has also performed in various regional festivals, recently in the Williamstown Theatre Festival production of R Shomon in 2004, and the Ravinia Festival production of Sunday in the Park with George in 2004 and Passion in 2003.