Ann Duquesnay gave this year's Tony Awards a jolt of pure joy when she won the award for outstanding featured actress for Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk.
"It came from my heart," Duquesnay says of her emotional acceptance speech, in which she paid tribute to her late mother. "I didn't expect to win. They were taking pictures of me afterward, and I couldn't stop crying. It was like, 'Oh, please‹pull it together, girl!' "
In addition to lending her strong voice to production numbers featuring Savion Glover's tap choreography, Duquesnay collaborated with Daryl Waters and Zane Mark to create the show's music. Reflecting on the success of Noise/Funk, she says, "We created it from the soul, from the gut, and George Wolfe molded it with his unbelievable vision and genius."
Duquesnay began performing at age nine, when she accompanied her mother, a gospel singer, to churches in Harlem. "I'm so grateful that I had the opportunity to do that, because it gave me a good feeling for performing. Whether it's drama or singing, I can find that center from singing gospel songs."
Though her parents didn't live to see her success, Duquesnay, the mother of three grown children and grandmother of two, says, "Every opening night, I think of my mom and dad."
As for life post-Noise, Duquesnay says simply, "I never wanted to be a big star. I've gone from job to job and had some down times, but I love what I do. That's the goal‹just to enjoy what you do."