Audra McDonald

Every actor started somewhere — and when it comes to theater performers, their roots are often similar, right down to the roles they cut their teeth on or the songs they first used at an audition.

Entertainment Weekly is launching a brand-new video series called Firsts & Worsts, dedicated to getting the unheard stories behind the beginnings of some of your favorite stage stars. Kicking off this exciting new project is the one and only Audra McDonald, a record-setting five-time Tony Award winner who recently earned her monumental eighth nomination. Lady McDonald is currently delivering one of Broadway’s most exquisite and haunting performances as the late jazz singer Billie Holiday in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, a role that McDonald says is, terrifyingly, her first time portraying a real-life legend.

McDonald stopped by the EW studio to kick off our series with a set stories from her early days on the stage — including the time she learned about the ending of The King and I during the actual show and the amateur production that required her to randomly belt a Bette Midler song dressed in a witch costume.

It’s no fun spoiling it anymore — let Audra McDonald tell you about her own Firsts & Worsts!