Audra McDonald Tops in Tonys!

The actress talks about 'Lady Day' and making Tony Award history.
12:56 | 07/25/14

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Transcript for Audra McDonald Tops in Tonys!
Now why. Brazilian -- -- -- EE. Yeah yeah. And resisting an idea stand yeah. -- -- Yeah. I'm glad. -- -- I -- not yeah. Yeah this cozy up -- and that's -- Mac and Samuel and games through. Hi everybody I'm Peter Travers and welcome to popcorn we we tell you what is popping in the pop culture I am thrilled today to have Audrey McDonald suggests. She does a lot of things but right now she's doing a show on Broadway called lady day and Anderson's -- grill. Where she plays Billy Holliday and she does this for seven or eight times a week. I don't know -- now. Also. She is now the record holder in terms of Tony Awards six for somebody -- just in her mid twenties I don't know. How -- any of this could have taken place but I'm saying to you six Tonys. Every award that you win your award would be getting -- new York and seeing -- McDonnell -- day. Or are look I just happened to him. You can get this CD. Which is not just the songs he sings in the show pot holes show we -- live according. So look at that. So you -- supposed to even be -- and -- I'm speaking to you bet now formally. Welcome are currently Don -- as you can -- -- here. Actors perform roles all time with this this is some -- -- transcendent experience -- night you so much her. Locally. Just speaking -- her and how schizophrenic are you -- -- -- Well. I have to say. -- I come into the theater I get very sleepy every night before -- onstage because I'm aware of what's about to happen you know it's a very interesting thing my body just reacts by discern when to shut down in a very odd way. Great what a wonderful to carry out while she's a little bit of junk and it says it's okay. But after the show I'm usually quite hyper. Believe it or not you know. The one thing I have noticed is that my language started to get mad at home a little bit because -- A very salty now the university he. -- cuts with the best of calling you're just carry papers well yes yes sure carry -- But I'm not -- Every anyway. So but -- it's it's it's been. An amazing experience it got a chance -- really research this woman and and hopefully trying. Passed as many of the minutes of -- cost. You know it to really find out -- she was trying to the most honest portrayal that I could possibly her. And she was. Just beautiful. Human being filled with contradictions. You know -- was this person who -- a drug addict and she was. An alcoholic who's also the kind disperse the government must -- Gracious and and and and giving person. She also masochistic. -- by temporary -- missed all you know and on all of that was incredible. Artist. You so sure of who she was an artist. Never sacrificed years now never tried to sound like anybody else never tried to go as popular today what she felt was right for her arms only -- How do you get to know your. Far from being born when that happens even the Hollywood -- it -- leasing some blues with Diana Ross like 1972. I do. I was too. Yeah with so what what did you think when you went to suspect that that you know island -- -- cartoonists. It's just there are bugs anyway who could have I I remember seeing it later actually. That just what impact was Billie Holiday having a new life even when he -- later did you watch the EC Bernstein there. A well when I first lady -- -- and -- News team on TV some -- something isn't much at home. And TV I'm scared to death. I just you know this lady who people -- -- well and she's saying. But they choose to insurance and what is she doing -- she's a child that's kind of judgments I didn't you know but then when I started preparing. -- -- -- read everything -- was to read I did not. Watch lady -- of -- Preparing for this particular project I read it. Along with. -- law. There. Biographies. And even Billy Holliday would say some of that's not true some investors that's not true and I spoke to a lot of people more. And tried to get their impressions of what was true it wasn't what they saw is that even. And then with I put all of that together and tried to come up. Which I guess my version and it's like can't you have to do that voice how do you -- That took about eight months to find. I -- -- kind of had just a generic sort of voice as far as the speaking voice and the singing voice and I kept trying to just I would find. Little. Isms here in -- but I couldn't sustaining it and then I heard a recording of her. In at rehearsal. In an apartment in 1956 where she's laughing and drinking and telling stories and -- king. Getting drunk her singing rehearsing picking he's cussing up -- storm. And in all of that I thought she sounds like -- -- Not my grandmother was a drug addict right now -- but the speaking voice was similar to mine. And I used to imitate my commandments in my -- speaking he thought I was there well see you can't thanks elapsed since I think -- -- -- -- -- You know there is being their partners are looking kid I adored -- -- I think this -- all -- -- -- -- still can't -- person and ghosts and -- medium. The -- left her to death and them. So I thought that might be my way if I start by trying to sound like nineteen. And that was me and we have to mention it because it's just remarkable that. The day is your sixth tone that you've won. I mean. It's not an -- I've had the privilege of seeing all those performances and I'll also throw in Marie Christine and hundreds and Shea problem thank you thing here. What does it feel like you know I hate it dozens. He doesn't. Truly feel like anything only because I can't -- let you know it's so. It's -- mind blowing to me to try to comprehend it. That I can't I don't you know and you still have to live like when a day -- -- basis and if anything I do feel more pressure. Well I better really -- up with the goods and you like Aaron let's see about these six counties now. -- gotten -- of and that -- means so there's that pressure but it's it's. I I can't happen you know the night of the Tonys is was overwhelming and you know -- felt like I've left my body and manners breakdown on stage and and it was so overwhelmed that then that night. -- away and it was certainly had that dream happen where. -- crazy dream my drivers that happened. But that's. Office staff realized I still gotta go do my -- tonight. You're doing concerts and you're CD's absolutely give us all kinds of things that's happening yet. You have to find that peace. Within yourself to do it talked of being the -- you know -- -- even. The suicide yes that was close as your evidence that's -- -- -- it was at the Jew York time via. And -- say they were incredibly supportive. Julie yes they. Put me into this what did you try to do too. I am. It's -- at -- it's I tied tried -- harassment you know. And they've gotten hoping hated me and Juilliard did date they stepped yes -- have long they had a mental health. Facilitator there. -- a therapists there and they checked into. That. A mental health hospital where -- was for a month. Then gotten things you know and -- when you're ready you can come back and finish your program. Why was it in your head that made you say it's gonna get better -- Well they -- it was they had me on. Medication that helped me in terms of antidepressants and then when I went back by -- goes straight back to Juilliard I had an opportunity. To audition for. National tour the secret garden. And when I got it. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- Could do that. Will be here you can delay finishing your program. It's. We think -- that musical theater things more for you anyway he's seen that seems to be real happy so go do it. And -- not rented secret garden. Manning came back and finished two -- and then went back out on the road -- to -- secret garden and then it got called audition for. Carousel from the road. So it really was just that I had an opportunity to go right back into the theater you've done a lot of other things besides that you were on a TV show. What was that foresees -- for years yet -- -- package before yes the and that was I just when it I'd never. I never. We're living comfortable in front of the camera before and I thought it when this opportunity came along about what Chandra rimes -- like one of the biggest you know show runners and and TV right now on incredible with Grey's Anatomy time. Handel. And I I I need to learn how to become. So I can't imagine others -- You know better way to do it than to give them. Get paid in and he got off out of my face -- being in front of the camera every single day -- twelve to fifteen hours about getting comfortable yeah now there's. Like stay awake hitting back at you definitely. At the key thing to do you pick up. Through its number one right. And that left what did I learn yeah I -- just a week. Do that night but in movies -- to hold different things you know I've never seen seven servants. And equipment. And you I have bill I've heard stories they seemed to be it. It was in the is that -- -- that was the main thing to meet an an and spend time with Anthony Quinn but -- Well it will never be here received you'd think -- -- asked -- -- -- -- in the amnesty. Theme from that right now. Them are right we always and -- out. In song. But it's always just the snippet. It now might in my dreams. I wanted to hear Billie holiday's seeing. When I'm -- this now but that could just be -- dream for me. -- -- -- and think about -- -- human psyche and. -- and that -- -- you have to marry me. And it. That the FI get excited at what it would be great I cannot -- to thank you don't think he is with. --

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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