Cynthia Erivo has two Oscar nominations for her exceptional work in the Harriet Tubman biopic, Harriet. Should she win either (or both) award, the rising 33-year-old actress/singer will officially become an EGOT, having already proven herself on Broadway. The actress has an extraordinary voice and great acting range. We should expect a great career in this performer's near future. Here are seven things you should know about this major talent!
Cynthia Erivo Is A Tony, Grammy And Emmy-Winning Actress And Singer
For many folks, Cynthia Erivo is best known for her powerhouse performance as Celie Harris in the Menier Chocolate Factory's musical production of The Color Purple, which went to Broadway in 2015. The performance was widely celebrated, resulting in Erivo winning a Tony Award for Best Actress In A Musical in 2016. Furthermore, in 2017, Cynthia Erivo and the rest of The Color Purple cast, along with The Today Show, won the Daytime Creative Arts Emmy Award for Outstanding Musical Performance in a Daytime Program category for their performance on the NBC program. Additionally, Erivo, Danielle Brooks, and Jennifer Hudson won a Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album. At only 33, she has already won three of the four major awards.
She Originally Studied Music Psychology Before She Went Into Dramatic Arts
Before Cynthia Erivo became the Oscar-nominated actress she is today, the British performer had aspirations of earning a music psychology degree from the University of East London. But after a year of this training, Erivo switched schools and majors by going to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.
Cynthia Erivo's First Movies Were 2018's Widows And Bad Times At The El Royale
While Cynthia Erivo was a proven talent on the stage, the actress/singer hadn't made the transition to the silver screen until 2018, when she was cast in two high-profile projects. The first film was Bad Times at the El Royale, a twisty thriller from writer/director Drew Goddard (The Cabin in the Woods). Erivo was in a starry ensemble that included several famous actors, including (but not limited to), Jon Hamm, Dakota Johnson, Jeff Bridges, Dakota Johnson, Nick Offerman, and Chris Hemsworth, but the Tony winner proved herself well, turning in one of the movie's most celebrated performances.
Shortly thereafter, Cynthia Erivo appeared in another ensemble thriller, Widows, from director Steve McQueen (12 Years A Slave), which, once again, put the rising actress in a cast that was filled with several well-known talents, including (but not limited to), Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Liam Neeson, Colin Farrell, Brian Tyree Henry, and Robert DuVall. Nevertheless, even in a supporting turn, the award-winning actress shined.
Harriet Is Only The Actress' Third Movie
With that, 2019's biopic, Harriet, based on the life of activist Harriet Tubman, became only the third movie to star Cynthia Erivo, and it was the first time she appeared in a leading role in a film. Suffice to say, it turned out well. The historical drama was generally well-received by critics, and it scored two Oscar nominations for Erivo, including Best Actress and Best Original Song for "Stand Up," which she shares with Joshuah Brian Campbell. If she receives either award (or both) during Sunday's ceremony, she'll officially become an EGOT, having previously won an Emmy, a Grammy, and a Tony.
Cynthia Erivo Plays A Role In The Long-Delayed Patrick Ness Adaptation, Chaos Walking
Currently, Cynthia Erivo has two movies in post-production: John Ridley's Needle In A Timestack and Doug Liman's troubled production of Chaos Walking. The adventure/sci-fi movie, also starring Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley, is expected to be released later this year, though it's left unclear when the hell this movie is ever going to come out. The movie has had a series of reshoots and delays after a troubled production, resulting in a first cut that was reportedly deemed "unreleasable" at one point. Adapted from the novel The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness, Erivo plays Hildy in the film. When we'll get a chance to see the YA adaptation and Erivo's performance therein is certainly left unclear right now.
Cynthia Erivo Has Also Appeared On Chewing Gum, Broad City, And The Boss Baby: Back In Business
Beyond her work in theater and in movies, Cynthia Erivo has also appeared in a few popular TV and streaming series. Most notably, the actress made guest appearances on an episode of Chewing Gum and two episodes of Broad City. She also lent her voice to an episode of The Boss Baby: Back In Business. She also made appearances on two other TV shows, The Tunnel and Mr. Selfridge, though Erivo's television profile is soon expected to rise.
She's Set To Play Aretha Franklin In The Newest Season Of Genius
Following her acclaimed performance as Harriet Tubman in Harriet, Cynthia Erivo is set to play another great historical figure. Specifically, Erivo plays the late singer Aretha Franklin in the upcoming third season of National Geographic's Genius. Where the past two seasons followed Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso, this season follows the life and death of the belated gospel musician, and how Aretha Franklin became one of the most revered singers in music history. The new season is set to premiere on May 25, 2020. Should the season be well-received, Erivo could end up in contention for a second Emmy.
She Can Currently Be Seen In The Stephen King HBO Adaptation, The Outsider
Away from her Oscar nominated performance in Harriet, Cynthia Erivo can currently be seen in HBO's mini-series The Outsider, based on the novel of the same name by Stephen King. In a cast that includes heavy-hitters like Ben Mendelsohn, Bill Camp, Paddy Considine, Jason Bateman (who is also a director for the series), and more, Erivo once again stands out, and the limited-run series, which premiered on January 12th, has received raves, most notably from King himself, who claimed that the newest TV adaptation was "one of the best adaptations" of his work. That's certainly very high praise.
Cynthia Erivo Is Also Part Of The Scripted Podcast, Carrier
In addition to her work on the stage and on screens both big and small, Cynthia Erivo has also made a splash in the world of podcasting. Specifically, the award-winning actress lends her voice to the scripted podcast show, Carrier. She plays the lead role of long-haul truck driver Raylene "Ray" Watts.
Even though Cynthia Erivo only has a few projects to her name, the actress/singer has proven herself immensely; it is abundantly clear that Erivo has a tremendous career ahead of her. We'll follow with interest to see where she goes next, particularly if she wins an Oscar or two at this year's ceremony.
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Will is an entertainment writer based in Pittsburgh, PA. His writing can also be found in The Playlist, Cut Print Film, We Got This Covered, The Young Folks, Slate and other outlets. He also co-hosts the weekly film/TV podcast Cinemaholics with Jon Negroni and he likes to think he's a professional Garfield enthusiast.