Audra McDonald: From Porgy and Bess to A Raisin in the Sun, it’s a voice that’s truly a treasure.
The record-setting six-time Tony Award winner’s career has been filled with nothing but high notes. But, off stage, she’s had a few runs as well.
More than 20 years ago, when McDonald, now 44, was a college student a New York City’s prestigious Julliard School of Performing Arts she sank so low into a battle with depression that she tried to take her own life. The musical theater icon discussed the incident for the first time in an interview with ABC’s Popcorn with Peter Travers this week. The star told Travers:
“When I was [in college] at Juilliard, I had a suicide attempt. I tried to slit my wrist.”
Even talking about mental health issues can be a taboo subject in some communities of color, Audra (who is African-American, just in case you hadn’t noticed) credits a campus counselor with setting her on the course to recovery. Antidepressants also helped.
“When someone is suicidal, one of the first things you have to do is to protect them from themselves. They had a mental-health facilitator there, a therapist there and they checked me into a mental-health hospital, where I was for a month, and got me the help I needed.”
It wasn’t look after that McDonald landed her breakout role in the 1993 production of Broadway’s Carousel.