Madeline McCray BIO

Actress * Activist * Writer

Actress Madeline McCray is best known for her portrayal of pioneer aviator Bessie Coleman in A Dream to Fly, a solo play about the world’s first Black woman pilot. She’s also co-starred in such stage productions as Roughly Speaking, Fences, Caseload and Imperceptible Mutabilities of the Third Kingdom. Short and feature film credits include: Lucky Motel Six, American Thief, Late, Sleep Tight, The Promenade, Pretty Girl, Out Again, Small Talk and One Too Many (Part II).  Madeline is a member of the Screen Actors Guild/American Federation of Television and Radio Artist (SAG/AFTRA) and Actors Equity Association (AEA).

Harlem native Madeline McCray chose to become an actress as a means to escape reality and expand her horizons.  A maverick at heart, Madeline enrolled in acting classes at HB Studios and formed OLAC Ensemble along with a group of fellow actors. The experience served to fuel McCray’s passion and broadened her interests to include writing and producing.

Madeline McCray wrote “A Dream to Fly: Inspired by the Life and Times of Bessie Coleman” to raise awareness of the world’s first Black woman pilot.  As a result, thousands of young people and adults from all walks of life have been informed and inspired by story.  Madeline performances around the country have been described as “An extraordinarily powerful portrayal of the human spirit.” Theatre Producer Lawrence D. Poster wrote, “Madeline McCray’s portrayal of Bessie Coleman is nothing short of stunning. In its honesty, its passion, its humanity, it takes your breath away.” Madeline’s other performances have received similar praise.  After directing Madeline in Suzan Lori Parks “Imperceptible Mutabilities of the Third Kingdom”, Liz Diamond described McCray as “a brave, disciplined and inventive actor.” McCray recently worked with industry established directors Shira-Lee Shalit, Mary Beth Easley, Woodie King Jr., Celine Rosenthal, Miguel Silviera and next generation directors Matthew Echelman, Sontenish Myers, Orr Bortman, Lauren Muller and Kristine Haruna Lee.

McCray boasts of earning her masters degree from the “School of Hard Knocks”.  Born Madeline Mason in Harlem, New York she was raised by her single mom Gertrude, a fiercely proud woman who refused to ask family for help when the lights got turned off or when there was no food to eat. Madeline was 14 years of age when her mother died suddenly of an asthma-induced heart attack. From that moment forward she chose to live on her own terms.  Madeline was still in her teens when she gave birth to sons Uhuru and Terahshea, escaped a drug world unscathed and survived an abusive relationship.  She refers to her one-night jail stay as a youthful misstep that was not to be repeated. 

Through it all, Madeline never lost her sense of humor, positive outlook on life’s infinite possibilities, or her self-confidence. McCray says, “Each experience helped me become tougher, wiser and more qualified to help others realize their own inner strength and human potential”.

Madeline McCray partnered with mental health advocate Terrie M. Williams to create New Legacy Leaders. The holistic wellness initiative was established to provide healthy lifestyle solutions and increase awareness on ways to break the cycle of violence against, women, children and LBGQT people.  Madeline is the author of Healthy Women Rock: How to Live the Life You Desire and Deserve, Lose Weight & Control Negative Thoughts. The self-help book is a collaboration with son, Terahshea McCray, a fitness and nutrition expert. * Madeline has seven grandchildren, Khalil, Nadir, Minkhara, Elijah, Kyla, Leon, Jim and is happily married to her best friend, actor Jerry Matz.