The film industry has had some incredible black actresses. We have had the chance to see women such as, Whoopi Goldberg, Halle Berry, Viola Davis, Lynn Whitfield and many more.
Cynthia Erivo aspires to add her name to this illustrious list. She is set to take the film industry by storm over the next few years. She is relatively unknown for now but, she is set for superstardom. Keep reading to find out more about Cynthia Erivo.
Her Parents are Nigerian
Cynthia Erivo was born as Cynthia Chinasaokwu O. Erivo. Her Nigerian mother raised her in Stockwell, England.
Erivo is a British national, and she went to La Retraite R.C. Girls School. She then went to study music at the University of London. However, after one year, she moved to the Royal Academy of Art to study film.
Her mother knew that she was headed to superstardom
Erivo’s mother prophesied that Erivo was going to be a superstar. She made a prophecy in Erivo’s baby book that Erivo would become a singer or an actress. The reason for this prophecy was that Erivo hummed when she ate. Erivo told Unstyled:
“She knew before I did that I was going to be a performer.”
Erivo realized her potential when she was only five. She sang Silent Night to an audience on Christmas Eve and, the crowd loved her. She explained how she felt to Unstyled:
“I don’t know that I was making a good sound, I just knew that whatever sound I was making was making people happy,”
She started performing roles on plays when she was 11. Her first role was on Bertolt Brecht’s The Caucasian Chalk Circle. She then appeared on a TV series called, Trust Me, I’m a Teenager. After that, she went to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art to study acting.
Her coach, Dee Cannon, told the New York Times that Erivo’s overconfidence almost derailed her acting career;
“She was quite a handful initially – a feisty firecracker – very, very confident, and her confidence backfired on her a little bit. She’d had a lot of experience, and was very confident in a class of very white English that didn’t appreciate that coming from someone else…”
With time, Erivo showed vulnerability and she became a better actor.
She received global recognition for her role on The Color Purple
In 2013, Erivo burst onto the scene with her role as Celie Harris in the Broadway remake of the classic film The Color Purple. The original The Color Purple film was made in 1985 and, it featured stars such as Danny Glover, Oprah Winfrey, and Whoopi Goldberg.
Erivo starred alongside Jennifer Hudson and, her role on the remake has won her several awards. She won the ‘Lead Actress in a Musical’ award at the 2016 Tony Awards. She told the New York Theatre Guide about her she felt after winning the award:
“I didn’t know that people would respond in this way to my character and to the show. I’m so thankful and I’m completely overwhelmed and I’m having the best time. It feels like a constant party!”
She also won a Grammy for ‘Best Musical Theatre Album’ along with her cast and a Daytime Emmy Award for ‘Outstanding Musical Performance in a Daytime Program’.
Erivo ventured into the film industry when she was invited to star in the film, Bad Times at the El Royale. She talked to Deadline about her first experience in the film industry:
“I was definitely nervous because I’d never done it before, and I didn’t know what to expect. I wanted to make sure I was making a good first impression…it was one thing for us to come together before we started filming – which was really lovely and very, very necessary – but it’s quite another to then get onto the set and start working. Nerve-wracking, but a really good experience.”
Erivo made a good impression on her film debut and, she soon starred in the film Widows.
She is set to play the lead role on the film Harriet
In February 2017, Erivo was confirmed as the lead actor in the biopic Harriet. Erivo plays the role of Harriet Tubman, who was an Iconic freedom fighter in the USA. Harriet escaped from the slavery and, she came back to free dozens of slaves through an Underground Railroad.
After the directors announced her as the lead actor, she received backlash from a section of fans. The fans protested that the role was given to a non-American who was a non-descendant of slavery. She responded to fans on an Instagram post where she stated;
“I struggled a little with whether or not to post anything about this role, because even though there is so much celebration and encouragement coming through, there’s also anger and offense spurred on by me being from the UK…People speak of foreign privilege and truthfully life would be unbelievably easy if that were applied to me but that is not my portion…I cannot tell how protective I am of this woman and her story.”
Erivo admitted that she had to ignore the hate to ensure that she gave her best on the film. She confessed to Deadline about how she dealt with the haters:
“…I had to let it go, and realize the great thing at hand, and that is to tell the story of Harriet Tubman…In the end, it’s more foolish of me if I come out of this and I haven’t done a good job…I would rather tell this story well, do it justice, and hopefully some minds will change.”
She continued shooting the film, and it will debut in November 2019. The film’s trailer is on YouTube, and many fans are excited about its release. Hopefully, Erivo will silence her critics when the film comes out.
She is a singer and a songwriter
Erivo always goes back to that initial performance when she was five. She seeks to fell that high again every time she goes on stage. It inspires her to deliver incredible performances every time she goes on stage to sing.
She has an incredible voice and, she put it to good use when performing The Color Purple. She has numerous performances of her songs on YouTube. In 2016, she collaborated with Oliver Tompsett and Scott Alan on the album Cynthia Erivo & Oliver Tompsett Sing Scott Alan.
Erivo has also worked with other artists including Shoshana Bean and Cynikal. Her biggest collaborations have been with the global megastar, John Legend. In 2018, Erivo and John combined to make a cover of the Beach Boys song, God Only Knows.
The pair also performed together at the 2017 Grammy Awards’ In Memoriam segment to honor the stars who passed away in 2016.
She is currently dating actor Dean John-Wilson
Erivo is currently dating actor Dean John Wilson. On 15th February 2019, she posted a lovely photo of the couple on Instagram with caption:
“Happy Valentine’s Day. This Day, he held the train of my dress, guarded it as though it were connected to my body. Created a barrier around it so that no one could damage it. He was asked if he was the security guard. I don’t think he disagreed. Imagine what he is like with me. I love him. He loves me.”
Dean is famous for appearing on Britain’s Got Talent in 2008. He got to the semi-final stage. In 2016, he played the role of Aladdin on the West End show, Aladdin. The show premiered days after Erivo won a Tony Award for her performance in The Color Purple.
Dean spoke to Digital Spy about his experience at Britain’s Got Talent:
“I definitely don’t regret doing it, because it opened my eyes a lot. But I’d rather be doing this than Britain’s Got Talent – because I feel like I’ve worked for it, and I’ve earned it. Rather than having six weeks of huge fame, I would think that I’ve earned my stripes.
She is a fitness fanatic
One look at Erivo’s Instagram page and you’ll find out that she loves working out. She has a muscular body, which is the result of a lot of gym work.
Her muscular body helped her out on the role she played on Widows. The director, Steve McQueen, encouraged her to work out in order to portray her role better. Steve even added a boxing scene on the film to suit Erivo’s talents.
Erivo took a break from her usual workout routine when playing the role of ‘Celie’ in The Color Purple. She didn’t want to bulk up too much for that role.
She would love to play Serena Williams
Erivo confessed that she would one day love to play the role of Serena Williams. Erivo told Deadline:
“I’ve met her but I haven’t talked about that…But I would love to, because I think she’s the perfect combination of power and strength and femininity all at once.”
Maybe one day she will play Serena Williams. What is for sure is that Erivo’s star is on the rise.