Tony, Grammy, and Emmy winner Audra McDonald, who made her West End debut this past summer in Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill, has been named the recipient of the 2018 Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The $100,000 cash prize will be awarded at a gala in McDonald's honor April 14, 2018. The award also includes an artist residency, during which McDonald will present a public talk at MIT (also on April 14) about her performances in theatre, film, and television.
The Eugene McDermott Award, established in 1974 by the Council for the Arts at MIT to honor the co-founder of Texas Instruments and longtime friend and benefactor of the Institute, celebrates "individuals who continue to achieve the highest distinction in their fields and who will produce inspiring work for many years to come." The cash prize represents an investment in the recipient’s future creative work, rather than a prize for a particular project or lifetime of achievement.
Past recipients include David Adjaye, Olafur Eliasson, Robert Lepage, Gustavo Dudamel, Bill Viola, Suzan-Lori Parks, and Santiago Calatrava.
In a statement McDonald said that art “is not just something beautiful that we experience in a theater or a museum.”
“Art can also be painful or make us feel vulnerable, but in that discomfort it has the power to be illuminating, transformative, and revelatory,” she added. “As in life, art must relish the joys while also embracing the suffering and struggle — a paradox that epitomizes the human experience. My greatest hope is that art helps us as a society to find common ground, to create dialogue, and to understand each other in new and meaningful ways.
“I am therefore so humbled and honored to receive the McDermott Award in the Arts and look forward to exploring these topics during my residency at MIT, an institution that embodies innovation, creativity, and, above all, humanity.”
McDonald made Broadway history with her performance as Billie Holiday in the Broadway run of Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill, earning her sixth Tony Award and becoming the first woman to win Tonys in all four eligible acting categories. She also holds the record for the most Tony Award wins of any actor in competitive categories.
Click here for more information about the award.