PASADENA, Calif. — Audra McDonald will serve as grand marshal of the 135th Rose Parade next year.
The 53-year-old actor and singer was introduced Friday on the lawn of Tournament House in Pasadena.
“As a California kid raised in Fresno — very proud to be from Fresno — the new year was always ushered in with the Rose Bowl,” McDonald said. “Every January first I’d wake up early to watch the parade and the game with my family.”
The six-time Tony Award winner will ride the 5 1/2-mile route down Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena on Jan. 1. McDonald will be part of the coin flip for the 110th Rose Bowl game later that day.
“I’m actually practicing,” she said. “If anybody can mess up a coin toss, it would be me.”
The parade’s theme of “Celebrating a World of Music: The Universal Language" represents different cultures and beliefs coming together. McDonald has defied racial stereotyping in her Tony-nominated and winning roles.
“For me growing up in Fresno, representation matters,” she said. “When you can see someone that looks like you achieving things, it helps you to realize your dream even more fully and to see that it's absolutely possible. Those barriers have been broken down so I can walk through.”
McDonald was joined on the outdoor stage by members of the Rose Court, including 2024 queen Naomi Stillitano.
“I was very pleased to see just how beautiful and diverse the court is,” McDonald said. “It was also wonderful to talk to all of them, to see where a lot of them are thinking about going to school, what they're thinking about studying. A lot of them going into STEM subjects, which is wonderful to hear.”
McDonald is the only performer to win Tonys in all four acting categories. Her TV credits include “Private Practice,” “The Good Wife” and “The Good Fight.” She's also won two Grammys and an Emmy, leaving her only an Oscar short of achieving EGOT status.
Earlier, Tournament of Roses president Alex Aghajanian asked for a moment of silence for 2006 grand marshal Sandra Day O'Connor, the former Supreme Court justice who died Friday at age 93.