Audra McDonald to be Rose Parade grand marshal

Wave Staff and Wire Reports

PASADENA — Singer, actress and six-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald has been named the 2024 Tournament of Roses grand marshal.

McDonald “not only gracefully epitomizes our theme, but also perfectly personifies the power of music to move, soothe, excite and delight us all,” Tournament of Roses President Alex Aghajanian said as he made the announcement outside Tournament House Dec. 1.

The theme of the 2024 Rose Parade is “Celebrating a World of Music.”

“I am so deeply honored to have been invited to serve as the grand marshal of the 2024 Rose Parade,” McDonald said. “As a California kid, raised in Fresno, … the new year was always ushered in with the Rose Bowl. Every January 1st I’d wake up early to watch the parade and the game with my family.

“My dad, may he rest in peace, was a huge football fan,” she said. “Always rooting for his beloved Oakland Raiders — I know they’re not in Oakland anymore — and the Fresno State Bulldogs. And although his beloved Bulldogs have yet to make it to the Rose Bowl, the Fresno State Bulldogs Marching Band made their Rose Parade debut last year, so go Bulldogs.

“And my dad would just be so thrilled to know — surprised, but very thrilled to know — that I was serving as the Rose Parade grand marshal.”

McDonald’s six Tony Awards are more than any other performer, and she is the only person to win in the four acting categories. She also has two Grammy Awards and an Emmy. She received the National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama in 2016 and was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 2017.

Her Tonys were awarded for her performances in “Carousel,” “Master Class,” “Ragtime,” “A Raisin in the Sun,” “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess” and “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill,” which also served as the vehicle for her Olivier-nominated 2017 West End debut.

On television, McDonald won an Emmy as the official host of PBS’s “Live From Lincoln Center” and is known for recurring roles on “Private Practice,” “The Good Wife,” “The Good Fight” and “The Gilded Age.”

Her film credits include Disney’s live-action “Beauty and the Beast” and MGM’s 2021 Aretha Franklin biopic, “Respect.” A Juilliard-trained soprano, she maintains a major career as a Grammy-winning recording and concert artist. Her latest solo album, “Sing Happy,” was recorded live with the New York Philharmonic for Decca Gold.

McDonald also is a founding member of Black Theatre United, a board member of Covenant House International and prominent advocate for LGBT rights. Her favorite roles are those performed offstage, as an activist, wife to actor Will Swenson and mother.