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Frank McCourt

Pulitzer Prize for Biography

The men got out of work, out of the factories and the timber yards and the cement factories at 5:30. They would come home on Friday night, most of them, wash themselves to here, from here to here, never below. No, people didn't touch themselves with water from one end of the year to the other. They'd come home, wash their hands, throw water on their faces, have their Friday night tea, which was an egg because it was Friday, and then the women would give the price of a few pints and they'd go out and they'd have a few pints, talk, sing a few songs, come home, have tea, go to bed, and go to work the next morning. Five thirty, they were out. By six o'clock most of them were home for that wash and their tea. The Angelus would ring all over Limerick in all the churches and the women would wait, but my mother would wait on tenterhooks. If he wasn't home by 6:00 o'clock, boom, boom, bong, bong all around the city. If he wasn't home by the time the Angelus rang, he wasn't coming home and then she'd sink deeper and deeper into the chair by the fire, because we knew then the wages were gone and he'd arrive home after the pubs were closed, roaring and singing down the lane, "Roddy McCorley Goes to Die," and all the patriotic songs. He grieved over Ireland and didn't care if we starved to death that night and the next day.
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Frank McCourt

Pulitzer Prize for Biography

The minute I opened my mouth then they'd say, "Oh, you're Irish." Suddenly I'm labeled. I wasn't a human being. In Ireland I was just a low-class type, but here I'm a low-class Irish type, an Irish low-class type. So I didn't know. Somehow I had to deal with that. "Oh, you're Irish." And at that time, that was 1949, there was still some kind of a lingering residue of prejudice against the Irish. People used to tell me, all the people, up and down New England (I'm in New York) there would be signs saying, "No Irish need apply." And even the Irish-Americans would listen to me and they'd patronize me. I was a bit simple as if I had just come off a farm. And I knew better than that. I knew I was better than that. People who -- Irish-Americans who were running elevators and working as porters, they were looking down on me, and I knew then that I was again at the bottom of the heap.
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David McCullough

Two Pulitzer Prizes for Biography

David McCullough: Years ago, when I was first brave enough, when I'd summoned the courage to decide I was going to attempt writing a book, I met a man one night at a party. And he was an elderly fellow, and I was about 28 years old, and I had heard -- his name was Harry Sinclair Drago, and he wrote Westerns -- and a friend said to me, "You see that old fellow over there? That's Harry Drago. He's written over 100 books." And I thought, "I'd like to talk to him." So I went over, and I said, "Mr. Drago, I - -somebody told me that you've written over 100 books." He said, "Yes, that's right." I said, "How do you do that?" He said, "Four pages a day, that's how you write 100 books. That's how you write books."
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Audra McDonald

Six Tony Awards

Obviously, if you're doing something in the theater, what you're doing has to be on a large enough scale that everybody in the theater can experience it. You have to hit the back wall, as they say. You have to be able to make sure, if you're experiencing some incredible thing on stage but no one can hear you, then you might as well not be on stage. However, if you were to be that big on television or in film, you'd look grotesque. It would look odd and weird, because the camera is right in your face, so you just have to learn how to exercise different muscles, but still going for the same goal, which is the most truthful way that you can express a character or an emotion. So for me it's just about staying within that truth, and then learning about the different techniques. And then the same thing with concertizing too. You have no script. You've got no fourth wall. There's nothing, really, no character to hide behind. So for me it was about learning how to communicate with the audience, and be comfortable with who I am is enough, and then slip into character for each song. But in between each song, you have to be honest and be comfortable with who you are. So that was also another sort of thing for me to learn. It's trial by error. I fell on my face many times, figuratively and literally. I have fallen on my face in concert. But someone said to me once -- a lady I was doing my first national tour with, Mary Fogarty. She had done a million plays by this point. She was about 70 years old, she's passed away now. But I said, "Where did you study acting?" She said, "The stage, honey. I learned on the stage." I said, "You didn't go to college? "She said, "No, no, no, no. I had to get on stage to figure out what I was doing wrong, and the stage will teach you." And I've never forgotten that either.
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Audra McDonald

Six Tony Awards

Audra McDonald: I guess you can look at it sort of like when you look at an Olympic runner and they cross the finish line. It's the same thing, I think, working and training to get to that moment. Sometimes it's less definitive with a Broadway show or in theater. I guess there's the opening night, if you get to the opening night. But it's like crossing a finish line. You have the moment of awareness of what's just happened, and awareness of, "Okay. That's a goal that I wanted to reach, and I've reached it, but you can't tell me that Usain Bolt isn't thinking, "Okay, now I gotta be faster." So you have a moment, which may last a week, it may last 30 seconds, it may last a year, and then the goal gets put all the way across the other side of the world again. Then there you go running towards that one. For me anyway, that's how it is always.
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