Erivo at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival
Cynthia Chinasaokwu O. Erivo
8 January 1987
|Alma mater||Royal Academy of Dramatic Art|
|Occupation||Actress, singer, songwriter|
Cynthia Chinasaokwu O. Erivo (//; born 8 January 1987) is a British actress, singer, and songwriter. She is known for her performance as Celie in the 2015 Broadway revival of The Color Purple, for which she won the 2016 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical as well as the 2017 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album. She reprised the role of Celie on Broadway after first performing it in the 2013 Menier Chocolate Factory production in London.
Erivo is also known for her performance as Deloris Van Cartier/Sister Mary Clarence in the UK tour of Sister Act. In 2018, she made the transition into film, starring in the dramas Widows and Bad Times at the El Royale.
Early life and education
Erivo was born to Nigerian parents in Stockwell, South London. She attended La Retraite Roman Catholic Girls' School. Erivo began a music psychology degree at the University of East London, however a year into her degree, she applied to, and subsequently trained at, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.
Erivo first appeared in roles on British television programmes such as Chewing Gum and The Tunnel. Her first stage role was in Marine Parade by Simon Stephens at the Brighton Festival. Her first musical role was in John Adams' and June Jordan's I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw the Sky at Theatre Royal Stratford East.
In 2013, Erivo played the role of Celie Harris in the Menier Chocolate Factory production of The Color Purple. Erivo had previously portrayed Sister Mary Clarence/Deloris Van Cartier in the UK tour of the musical stage version of Sister Act which Goldberg also originated in its film adaptation.
Erivo originated the role of Chenice in the West End musical I Can't Sing! The X Factor Musical, which opened on 26 March 2014, at the London Palladium. The production closed on 10 May, just six weeks and three days since its official opening night.
She made her Broadway debut in the 2015 Broadway revival transfer of the Menier Chocolate Factory production of The Color Purple, reprising her role as Celie Harris alongside American actresses Jennifer Hudson as Shug Avery and Danielle Brooks as Sofia. The production began performances at Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, from 10 December 2015. Among other awards for her performance, Erivo won the 2016 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical.
Erivo starred as Cathy alongside Joshua Henry in a one-night benefit concert performance of Jason Robert Brown's The Last Five Years on September 12, 2016. Proceeds from the performance went to the Brady Center, a national gun violence organization.
In March 2017, Erivo and the cast of The Color Purple were nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award for their performance on NBC's The Today Show in May 2016. In April 2017, it was announced that Erivo and the cast of The Color Purple alongside The Today Show won the Daytime Creative Arts Emmy Award in the Outstanding Musical Performance in a Daytime Program category.
Film industry breakthrough
In 2018, Erivo starred as part of the seven-actor ensemble of Drew Goddard's Bad Times at the El Royale, as a "down-on-her-luck singer". Filming commenced in January 2018, with an October release, making the film her first to reach theatres. Also that year, she starred in Steve McQueen's Widows, alongside Viola Davis, in the first cinema role she had filmed during the summer of 2017, for release on November 16.
Erivo has been cast in Chaos Walking, based on Patrick Ness' trilogy novels, with release expected in 2020. In February 2017, it was reported that Erivo was attached to portray the title role in Harriet, a biographical film about American abolitionist Harriet Tubman. The film began production in October 2018, completed filming in January 2019, and is set for release on November 1, 2019.
|Bad Times at the El Royale||Darlene Sweet|
|Needle in a Timestack||Post-production|
|2015||Chewing Gum||Magdalene||Episode: "Tolled Road"|
|2016||Mr Selfridge||Alberta Hunter||2 episodes|
|The Tunnel||Mel||Episode #2.3|
|2017–2019||Broad City||Lisa||2 episodes|
|2019||American Idol||Herself||1 episode|
|TBA||The Outsider||Holly Gibney||Miniseries|
|2011||The Umbrellas of Cherbourg||Madeleine||Curve Theatre/Gielgud Theatre||Leicester/West End|
|2011–12||Sister Act||Deloris Van Cartier / Sister Mary Clarence||N/A||UK Tour|
|2013||Lift||Lap Dancer||Soho Theatre||Off-West End|
|The Color Purple||Celie Harris Johnson||Menier Chocolate Factory||Off-West End|
|2014||I Can't Sing! The X Factor Musical||Chenice||London Palladium||West End|
|2015||A Midsummer Night's Dream||Puck||Liverpool Everyman||Regional|
|2015–17||The Color Purple||Celie Harris Johnson||Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre||Broadway|
|2016||The Last Five Years||Cathy Hiatt||The Town Hall||Brady Center Benefit Concert|
|Cynthia Erivo and Oliver Tompsett Sing Scott Alan (with Oliver Tompsett & Scott Alan|
|"Won't Let You Down" (Cynikal featuring Cynthia Erivo)||2012||non-album single|
|"I Did Something Bad (cover)" (Shoshana Bean featuring Cynthia Erivo)||2018|
|"God Only Knows" (Cynthia Erivo & John Legend featuring yMusic)|
|"Suddenly"||2013||Anderson & Petty||You Are Home: The Songs of Anderson & Petty|
|"Fly Before You Fall"||2014||N/A||Beyond the Lights (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)|
|"Bridge Over Troubled Water"||2016||Alison Jiear||Inspirational|
|"Jump"||2017||N/A||Step (Music from and Inspired by the Motion Picture)|
|"When You Wish Upon a Star"||Vera Lynn, Leigh Harline, & Manning Sherwin||Vera Lynn 100|
|"Alright"||2018||Anthony Ramos||The Freedom EP|
|"My Funny Valentine"||Billy Porter||Billy Porter Presents: The Soul of Richard Rogers|
|"Nobody"||Todrick Hall & Jade Novah||Forbidden|
|"Si Pudiera Leer Tus Sueños"||N/A||Singing You Home: Children's Songs for Family Reunification|
|"Hold On I'm Coming"||Bad Times at the El Royale (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)|
|"This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak For You)"|
Awards and nominations
|2013||Evening Standard Award||Best Musical Performance||The Color Purple||Nominated|
|Whatsonstage.com Awards||Best Actress in a Musical||Nominated|
|2016||Tony Award||Best Actress in a Musical||Won|
|Drama Desk Award||Outstanding Actress in a Musical||Won|
|Drama League Award||Distinguished Performance||Nominated|
|Outer Critics Circle Award||Outstanding Actress in a Musical||Won|
|Theatre World Award||Outstanding Broadway Debut Performance||Won|
|2017||Grammy Award||Best Musical Theater Album||Won|
|Daytime Emmy Award||Outstanding Musical Performance in a Daytime Program
(shared with the cast of The Color Purple)
|2018||Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award||Best Supporting Actress||Bad Times at the El Royale||Nominated|
|2019||BAFTA Award||Rising Star Award||—||Nominated|
- "Family Search". Familysearch.org. Retrieved 26 February 2019. (subscription required)
- "Cynthia Erivo Explores ASMR". W Magazine. 12 October 2018. Retrieved 20 April 2019.
- Wolf, Matt (17 July 2013). "A Star Is Born! Meet Cynthia Erivo, Who Plays Celie in John Doyle's London Premiere of The Color Purple". Theatre.com. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
- John, Emma (27 July 2015). "Move over Whoopi! How Cynthia Erivo made The Color Purple her own". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
- Bosanquet, Theo (19 November 2014). "Leading Ladies: Cynthia Erivo 'I want to do everything'". What's On Stage. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
- Hemley, Matthew (26 July 2015). "Cynthia Erivo: 'You have to drag me off the stage'". The Stage. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
- "I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw The Sky, Theatre Royal Stratford East | The Arts Desk". www.theartsdesk.com. Retrieved 2018-09-17.
- McCrum, Robert (20 July 2013). "The Color Purple – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
- Gilbert, Ryan (3 June 2013). "Complete Casting Announced for The Color Purple at London's Menier Chocolate Factory". Theatre.com. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
- Shenton, Mark (22 June 2011). "U.K. Tour of Sister Act Will Be Led by Denise Black, Michael Starke and Cynthia Erivo". Playbill. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
- Bosanquet, Theo (30 August 2013). "Nigel Harman and Cynthia Erivo star in X Factor musical I Can't Sing!". What's On Stage. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
- McNally, Kelby (22 May 2013). "'I Can't Sing': Harry Hill reveals name of his X Factor musical". Sunday Express. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
- "X Factor musical I Can't Sing! to close early". BBC News. 27 April 2014. Retrieved 27 April 2014.
- Osley, Richard (27 April 2014). "X Factor musical I Can't Sing! to close after less than two months". The Independent. Retrieved 27 April 2014.
- "The Color Purple: Cynthia Erivo wows critics in Broadway debut". BBC News. 11 December 2015. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
- "Cynthia Erivo to join Jennifer Hudson in 'The Color Purple'". Daily Mail. 16 March 2015. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
- Viagas, Robert (16 March 2015). "Breakout London Star Cynthia Erivo Wins Plum Lead in Broadway Color Purple Revival". Playbill. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
- Piepenburg, Erik (August 11, 2016). "Cynthia Erivo and Joshua Henry to Star in 'Last Five Years' Benefit". New York Times. Retrieved 13 Aug 2016.
- Brown, Eric (12 February 2017). "John Legend and Cynthia Erivo Honor Those We've Lost at Grammys". People. Retrieved 23 February 2017.
- McPhee, Ryan (23 March 2017). "The Color Purple Performance on The Today Show Led By Cynthia Erivo Receives Daytime Emmy Nomination". Playbill. Retrieved 25 March 2017.
- "Tony Winner Cynthia Erivo Joins Drew Goddard's 'Bad Times at the El Royale' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2017-09-15.
- Kroll, Justin (11 November 2016). "'The Color Purple' Actress Cynthia Erivo Joins Viola Davis in Steve McQueen's 'Widows'". Variety. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
- "Widows". Directors Guild of America. Retrieved April 4, 2017.
- "Cynthia Erivo Joins Daisy Ridley in 'Chaos Walking' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2017-09-15.
- "Cynthia Erivo Will Play Harriet Tubman in New Film Harriet" by Andrew Gans, Playbill, February 8, 2017
- N'Duka, Amanda (8 February 2017). "Cynthia Erivo To Star As Harriet Tubman In Upcoming 'Harriet' Biopic". Deadline. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
- D'Alessandro, Anthony; D'Alessandro, Anthony (13 September 2018). "Focus Features Moving Forward With Harriet Tubman Pic Starring Cynthia Erivo".
- Correspondent @StacyBrownMedia, Stacy M. Brown NNPA Newswire. "New film honors the life of Harriet Tubman". Insight News. Retrieved 2019-01-28.
- Petski, Denise; Petski, Denise (2019-01-25). "'The Outsider': Cynthia Erivo, Bill Camp, Mare Winningham, Paddy Considine, Julianne Nicholson Among 10 Cast In HBO Drama Series". Deadline. Retrieved 2019-01-28.
- "HBO's Stephen King Series 'The Outsider' Fills Out Cast". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2019-01-28.
- The Saviors (Feature Film)
- "A Midsummer Night's Dream - Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse theatres". Retrieved 8 February 2017.
- "Tony Awards Nominations: Complete List", Variety, May 3, 2016
- Cox, Gordon (28 April 2016). "Drama Desk Nominations: 'She Loves Me,' 'American Psycho' Earn Most Nods". Variety. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
- Gans, Andrew (20 May 2016). "Zachary Levi and Megan Hilty Host 82nd Annual Drama League Awards Today". Playbill. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
- Gordon, David (9 May 2016). "Cynthia Erivo, Danny Burstein, Steve Martin, and More Win 2016 Outer Critics Circle Awards". Theater Mania. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
- Gans, Andrew (2 May 2016). "Theatre World Awards Announce 2016 Winners". Playbill. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
- "The Color Purple Cast Recording, Featuring Cynthia Erivo & Jennifer Hudson, Wins 2017 Grammy Award". Broadway.com. Retrieved 2017-02-12.
- Montgomery, Daniel (2017-04-29). "Cynthia Erivo wins Daytime Emmy for 'The Color Purple,' is now just an Oscar away from EGOT". Goldderby. Retrieved 2017-04-29.
- "Letitia Wright, Lakeith Stanfield Nominated for BAFTA's Rising Star Award". Variety. 2019-01-03. Retrieved 2019-01-07.