|Sara Krulwich/The New York Times|
Audra McDonald is known for her stage presence. She commanded the theatre and television, earning six Tony awards, two Grammy awards, and an Emmy–but now she’s sharing a story that hasn’t been seen on Broadway.
The successful singer and actress revealed that while enrolled at Julliard, she battled depression, attempting suicide when she was at her lowest point.
As a college student at New York City’s most prestigious arts institution, the Private Practice star faced a ton of pressure. “The combination of being where I wanted to be, in New York City, thinking I’m finally going to realize my dreams, stuck and failing miserably at Julliard,” in addition to a rough breakup was “…the straw that broke the camel’s back. But it was three years of ‘I’m in the wrong place doing the wrong thing.'”
Feeling lost and alone, “I had a suicide attempt,” Audra revealed. “I tried to slit my wrist.”
Thankfully, she was able to get help. “When someone is suicidal, one of the first things you have to do is to protect them from themselves,” she explained. “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.”
Every year, more than 19 million Americans suffer from some type of depressive illness, but Black women are among the most undertreated groups for depression in the nation. Audra explained that she wasn’t able to tell anyone how she felt. “Not being able to admit to anybody at home what was going on. Not able to go home because I would look like a failure.”
Antidepressants and career opportunities also helped treat her depression. Once she left the hospital, “Julliard was like… ‘We think that that musical theater thing is more for you anyway. That seems to be where you’re the happiest.” She took on a stage role in the national tour of The Secret Garden, and the rest is history.
If you are depressed, you’re not alone. Call the suicide hotline at (800) 273-TALK (8255), or text 741741 from anywhere in the USA to text with a trained Crisis Counselor.