|Alma mater||Royal Academy of Dramatic Art|
|Occupation||Actress, singer, songwriter|
Cynthia Erivo (//; born 8 January 1987) is an English actress, singer, and songwriter. She is the recipient of many prestigious accolades, including a Daytime Emmy Award, a Grammy Award, and a Tony Award, in addition to nominations for two Academy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, a Primetime Emmy Award, and two Screen Actors Guild Awards.
Erivo began acting in a 2011 stage production of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. She gained recognition for starring in the Broadway revival of The Color Purple from 2015 to 2017, for which she won the 2016 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical and the Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album. Erivo ventured into films in 2018, playing roles in the heist film Widows and the thriller Bad Times at the El Royale. For her portrayal of American abolitionist Harriet Tubman in the biopic Harriet (2019), Erivo received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress; she also wrote and performed the song "Stand Up" on its soundtrack, which garnered her a nomination in the Best Original Song category. She played The Blue Fairy in Disney's live-action remake of Pinocchio (2022).
On television, Erivo had her first role in the British series Chewing Gum (2015). She went on to star in the crime drama miniseries The Outsider (2020), and received a nomination for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie for her portrayal of American singer Aretha Franklin in National Geographic's anthology series Genius: Aretha (2021).
Early life and education
Erivo was born to Nigerian parents in Stockwell, South London. Her mother is a nurse. 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.
Career beginnings and theatrical roles (2011–2017)
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, a role which Whoopi Goldberg had originated onscreen. Erivo had previously portrayed Sister Mary Clarence / Deloris Van Cartier in a UK tour of the stage musical Sister Act, which Goldberg had originated in its film adaptation. She is also featured on the soundtrack to the musical drama film Beyond the Lights, co-writing and performing the song "Fly Before You Fall".
Erivo originated the role of Chenice in the West End musical I Can't Sing!, which opened at the London Palladium on 26 March 2014, garnering mixed reviews. The production closed on 10 May, just six weeks and three days after its official opening night. Erivo starred in the European premiere of Dessa Rose at London's Trafalgar Studios from July to August 2014, for which she was nominated as Best Leading Actress in a musical at the 2015 BroadwayWorld UK awards.
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 12 September 2016. Proceeds from the performance went to the Brady Center, a national gun violence organization. In February 2017, Erivo performed "God Only Knows" as a tribute to musicians who had died over the past year alongside John Legend at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards.
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. In November 2017, she appeared on the charity benefit Night of Too Many Stars, hosted by Jon Stewart, where she performed a duet with frequent contributor Jodi DiPiazza of the Andra Day hit "Rise Up" they were accompanied by Questlove and The Roots.
Film career (since 2018)
Erivo made her film debut in 2018 in the neo-noir thriller film Bad Times at the El Royale. Justin Chang of the Los Angeles Times deemed Erivo's performance "revelatory in the most rewarding sense". That same year, she also starred in the heist thriller film Widows, which marked the first film she had ever shot. In his review of the film for The Atlantic, David Sims highlighted Erivo's "incredible work" in portraying her character's dramatic transformation. In 2019, Erivo produced and starred in the scripted science fiction thriller podcast Carrier, voicing the lead role of Raylene Watts, a long-haul truck driver transporting a trailer with "disturbing, mysterious contents".
Erivo portrayed 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 was released on 1 November 2019. Her performance earned her a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama; she also received a second nomination for Best Original Song for a song she co-wrote and performed for the film entitled "Stand Up". In 2020, Erivo garnered nominations for two Academy Awards–one for Best Actress for her portrayal of Tubman and the other for Best Original Song for "Stand Up".
In 2020, Erivo starred as investigator Holly Gibney in the HBO miniseries The Outsider, a television adaptation of Stephen King's novel of the same name. That same year, she launched a production company named Edith's Daughter as well as signed a deal with media company MRC to develop television projects through the production company. She appeared in the science fiction film Chaos Walking, based on Patrick Ness' novel The Knife of Never Letting Go, which was released on 5 March 2021. Erivo portrayed singer Aretha Franklin in the third season of the anthology series Genius, which premiered in March 2021. She released two songs titled "The Good" and "Glowing Up" to promote her debut studio album, Ch. 1 Vs. 1, which was released on 7 September 2021. That same month, she joined the jury of the 78th Venice International Film Festival.
Erivo played The Blue Fairy in Disney's live-action film adaptation of Pinocchio, directed by Robert Zemeckis. She is slated to produce and star in a film adaption of the podcast Carrier, reprising the role of Raylene. Erivo is attached to star in a film continuation of the series Luther and as Elphaba in a two-part film adaptation of the musical Wicked. She will star in and produce sci-fi film Blink Speed for Netflix.
BBC Proms 2022
On 17 July 2022 Enviro performed at the BBC Proms, offering a tribute to those legendary singers who have inspired, such as Nina Simone, Shirley Bassey, Billie Holiday and Gladys Knight. Writing in The Times, John Bungey said "... Erivo's homage to 'Legendary Voices' amounted to much more than a night of reverent fangirl covers. Once you accepted the terms of engagement, there was plenty to enjoy — foremost Erivo's magnificent singing. In classical terms she is a mezzo-soprano with a three-octave range, and while she sometimes improvised soulful embellishments, all was in service of the song. Her a cappella opening to "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" was so pure it was almost a shame when the orchestra crept in. By contrast, her voice took on an urgent bluesy power for Franklin's "Ain't No Way", a funky highlight."
Erivo is Roman Catholic. In 2016, she dated actor and singer Dean John-Wilson. She began dating Mario Martinez in 2017. Erivo identifies as queer and bisexual. She is currently dating Emmy-winning actress and screenwriter Lena Waithe.
|Denotes works that have not yet been released|
|Bad Times at the El Royale||Darlene Sweet|
|Needle in a Timestack||Janine Mikkelsen|
|2022||Pinocchio||The Blue Fairy|
|2015||Chewing Gum||Magdalene||1 Episode|
|2016||Mr Selfridge||Alberta Hunter||Recurring Role (2 Episodes)|
|The Tunnel||Mel||1 Episode|
|2017-2019||Broad City||Lisa||Recurring Role (2 Episodes)|
|2018||The Boss Baby: Back in Business||Turtleneck Superstar||Voice Role (1 Episode)|
|2019||Anthem: Homunculus||Joan||Recurring Role (3 Episodes)|
|Carrier (Podcast Series)||Raylene Watts||Regular Role (6 Episodes)|
|Sunny Day||Dr. Vanessa||Voice Role (1 Episode)|
|The Two Princes (Podcast Series)||Queen Malkia of the Midlands||Regular Role (5 Episodes)|
|2020||The Outsider||Holly Gibney||Regular Role (8 Episodes)|
|James and the Giant Peach with Taika and Friends||Ladybird||1 Episode|
|Hank the Cowdog (Podcast Series)||Madame Moonshine||Regular Role (6 Episodes)|
|American Idol||Herself||Guest (Grand Finale)|
|2021||Genius||Aretha Franklin||Main Role (8 Episodes)|
|Ru Paul’s Drag Race||Herself||Judge (1 Episode)|
|Strictly Come Dancing||Herself||Judge (2 Episodes)|
|2022||Fraggle Rock||The Archivist||Voice Role (1 Episode)|
|2010||Marine Parade||Various||Brighton Festival|
|I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw the Sky||Leila||Theatre Royal, Stratford East|
|2011||The Umbrellas of Cherbourg||Madeleine||Gielgud Theatre/ Curve Theatre|
|2011-2012||Sister Act||Deloris Van Cartier / Sister Mary Clarence||UK Tour|
|2013||Lift||Lap Dancer||Soho Theatre|
|The Color Purple||Celie Harris Johnson||Menier Chocolate Factory|
|2014||I Can't Sing! The X Factor Musical||Chenice||London Palladium|
|Dessa Rose||Dessa Rose||Trafalgar Studios|
|2014-2015||Henry IV||Poins/The Earl of Douglas||Donmar Warehouse, London|
|2015||How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying||Rosemary Pilkington||Royal Festival Hall|
|A Midsummer Night's Dream||Puck||Liverpool Everyman|
|2015-2017||The Color Purple||Celie Harris Johnson||Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre|
|2016||The Last Five Years||Cathy Hiatt||The Town Hall|
Solo studio albums
|Title||Details||Peak chart positions|
|Ch. 1 Vs. 1||77|
Collaborative studio albums
|Cynthia Erivo and Oliver Tompsett Sing Scott Alan
(with Oliver Tompsett & Scott Alan)
|She is Risen, Vol. 2
(with Morgan James, Shoshana Bean, Debbie Gravitte, Bryonha Marie Parham, Ellyn Marie Marsh, Ann Harada, Tamika Lawrence, Bridget Everett, Marva Hicks, Eden Espinosa, and A Broader Way Choir)
As lead artist
|"Fly Before You Fall"||2014||—||21||Beyond the Lights (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)|
|"God Only Knows" (with John Legend featuring yMusic)||2018||20||non-album single|
|"Stand Up" (from Harriet)||2019||42||2||31||—||Harriet (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)|
|"When You Believe" (with Shoshana Bean featuring Stephen Schwartz)||2020||—||—||non-album singles|
|"Chain of Fools"
(from Genius: Aretha)
|"The Good"||—||Ch. 1 Vs. 1|
As featured artist
|"Won't Let You Down"
(Cynikal featuring Cynthia Erivo)
|"I Did Something Bad (cover)"
(Shoshana Bean featuring Cynthia Erivo)
|"Together (Soundtrack from Year in Search)"
(Peter CottonTale featuring Chance the Rapper, Cynthia Erivo, Chicago Children's Choir, and Matt Jones Re-Collective Orchestra)
Other charted songs
|"Angels We Have Heard on High"
(Lea Michele featuring Cynthia Erivo)
|2019||22||Christmas in the City|
|"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 Rodgers|
|"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)"|
|"Angels We Have Heard on High"||2019||Lea Michele||Christmas in the City|
|"Goodbye Song"||Terence Blanchard||Harriet (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)|
|"I Don't Know How to Love Him"||2020||—||She is Risen: Volume One|
|"Winter Song"||Leslie Odom Jr.||The Christmas Album|
|"Inside"||2021||Logic||Bobby Tarantino III|
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- "Cynthia Erivo Reveals How She Accessed Sadness to Portray Harriet Tubman". O, The Oprah Magazine. 28 October 2019. Retrieved 16 August 2020.
- 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.
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- 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.
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- "Dessa Rose". Arion Productions.
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- Sims, David (15 November 2018). "'Widows': Viola Davis Steals McQueen's Heist Thriller". The Atlantic. Retrieved 16 August 2020.
- Wiseman, Andreas (9 July 2019). "'Carrier' Podcast First Trailer: Upcoming Thriller Stars 'Bad Times At The El Royale's Cynthia Erivo". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 22 May 2020.
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- Brzeski, Patrick (1 September 2021). "Venice Jury President Bong Joon-ho: "COVID Will Pass and Cinema WiIl Continue"". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2 September 2021.
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- Shafer, Ellise; Matt, Donnelly (5 November 2021). "Ariana Grande and Cynthia Erivo to Star in 'Wicked' Musical for Universal". Variety. Retrieved 5 November 2021.
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- "Lena Waithe and Cynthia Erivo seen holding hands at gala". 17 June 2022.
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