8 January 1987
|Alma mater||Royal Academy of Dramatic Art|
|Occupation||Actress, singer, songwriter|
Cynthia Onyedinmanasu Chinasaokwu Erivo (//; born 8 January 1987) is an English actress, singer and songwriter. She is the recipient of several accolades, including a Daytime Emmy Award, a Grammy Award, and a Tony Award, as well as nominations for two Academy Awards.
Erivo began acting in a 2011 stage production of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg and had her first screen role in the British television series Chewing Gum (2015). 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, attaining 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, 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. Erivo starred in the crime drama miniseries The Outsider in 2020 and portrayed American singer Aretha Franklin in National Geographic's miniseries Genius the following year.
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.
2011–2017: Career beginnings and theatrical roles
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.
2018–present: Film career
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 selling 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 a song titled "The Good" in June 2021. It served as the first single of her debut studio album, Ch. 1 Vs. 1, which is scheduled for a September 2021 release.
Erivo will portray The Blue Fairy in Disney's live-action film adaptation of Pinocchio, directed by Robert Zemeckis. She is also set to produce and star in a film adaption of the podcast Carrier, reprising the role of Raylene.
|2018||Bad Times at the El Royale||Darlene Sweet|
|TBA||Needle in a Timestack||TBA||Post-production|
|TBA||Pinocchio||The Blue Fairy||Filming|
|2015||Chewing Gum||Magdalene||Episode: "Tolled Road"|
|2016||Mr Selfridge||Alberta Hunter||2 episodes|
|2016||The Tunnel||Mel||Episode #2.3|
|2017–2019||Broad City||Lisa||2 episodes|
|2018||The Boss Baby: Back in Business||Turtleneck Superstar CEO Baby (voice)||Episode: "As the Diaper Changes"|
|2019||Sunny Day||Dr. Vanessa (voice)||Episode: "Get Her To The Vet"|
|2020||American Idol||Herself||Episode: "316 (On With the Show: Grand Finale)"|
|2020||The Outsider||Holly Gibney||Miniseries|
|2021||Genius||Aretha Franklin||Season 3|
|2021||RuPaul's Drag Race||Herself||Season 13: Episode 13|
|2011||The Umbrellas of Cherbourg||Madeleine||Curve Theatre/Gielgud Theatre||Leicester/West End|
|2011–2012||Sister Act||Deloris Van Cartier / Sister Mary Clarence||N/A||UK Tour|
|2013||Lift||Lap Dancer||Soho Theatre||Off-West End|
|2013||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|
|2014||Dessa Rose||Dessa Rose||Trafalgar Studios||West End|
|2015||How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying||Rosemary Pilkington||Royal Festival Hall||Off-West End|
|2015||A Midsummer Night's Dream||Puck||Liverpool Everyman||Regional|
|2015–2017||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)
|Ch. 1 Vs. 1|
Soundtrack and cast albums
|The Color Purple (2015 Broadway Cast Recording)||
|Anthem: Homunculus (Original Soundtrack)||
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||2||—||Harriet (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)|
|"When You Believe" (with Shoshana Bean featuring Stephen Schwartz)||2020||—||—||non-album single|
|"The Good"||2021||—||—||Ch. 1 Vs. 1|
As featured artist
|"Won't Let You Down" (Cynikal featuring Cynthia Erivo)||2012||non-album single|
|"I Did Something Bad (cover)" (Shoshana Bean featuring Cynthia Erivo)||2018|
|"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)|
- "@cynthiaerivo on Instagram: "DAY BY DAY I REALIZE THAT PEOPLE Don't REALIZE THAT I AM NIGERIAN. I AM NIGERIAN. IGBO KWENU Ahah Full name Cynthia Onyedinmanasu…"".
- "Family Search". Familysearch.org. Retrieved 26 February 2019. (subscription required)
- "Cynthia Erivo Explores ASMR". W. 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.
- "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.
- "I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw The Sky, Theatre Royal Stratford East". The Arts Desk. 8 July 2010. Retrieved 17 September 2018.
- 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.
- Benedict, David (27 March 2014). "'I Can't Sing' Review: A Splashy Sendup of 'The X Factor'". Variety. Archived from the original on 10 February 2017. Retrieved 5 June 2021.
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- "X Factor musical I Can't Sing! to close early". BBC News. 27 April 2014. Retrieved 27 April 2014.
- "Dessa Rose". Arion Productions.
- "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'". The Guardian. Associated Press. 17 March 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 (11 August 2016). "Cynthia Erivo and Joshua Henry to Star in 'Last Five Years' Benefit". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 August 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.
- McGlynn, Katla (19 November 2017). "The Highs and Lows of Night of Too Many Stars, Jon Stewart's Autism Benefit Show". Vulture. Retrieved 7 October 2019.
- Marotta, Jenna (24 September 2018). "'Bad Times at El Royale' Debut Draws Dakota Johnson, Jeff Bridges, Jon Hamm". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 16 August 2020.
- Chang, Justin (10 October 2018). "Review: Twisty motel noir 'Bad Times at the El Royale' nearly overstays its welcome". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 16 August 2020.
- Jones, Nate (30 October 2019). "Cynthia Erivo Answers Every Question We Have About 'Widows'". Vulture. Retrieved 16 August 2020.
- 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.
- Gans, Andrew (8 February 2017). "Cynthia Erivo Will Play Harriet Tubman in New Film Harriet". Playbill. Retrieved 16 August 2020.
- N'Duka, Amanda (8 February 2017). "Cynthia Erivo To Star As Harriet Tubman In Upcoming 'Harriet' Biopic". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
- D'Alessandro, Anthony (13 September 2018). "Focus Features Moving Forward With Harriet Tubman Pic Starring Cynthia Erivo". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 16 August 2020.
- Brown, Stacy M. "New film honors the life of Harriet Tubman". Insight News. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
- "Golden Globes 2020: The Complete Nominations List". Variety. 9 December 2019. Retrieved 9 December 2019.
- N'Duka, Amanda (9 December 2019). "'Harriet' Star Cynthia Erivo Lands Double Golden Globe Nominations, Talks Harriet Tubman & Aretha Franklin". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 16 August 2020.
- Abad-Santos, Alex; Wilkinson, Alissa (13 January 2020). "Oscars 2020: the full list of nominees". Vox. Retrieved 16 August 2020.
- Petski, Denise (25 January 2019). "'The Outsider': Cynthia Erivo, Bill Camp, Mare Winningham, Paddy Considine, Julianne Nicholson Among 10 Cast In HBO Drama Series". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
- Ramos, Dino-Ray (15 January 2020). "'The Outsider's Cynthia Erivo Responds To Stephen King's Diversity Comments; Bateman And Price Talk Challenges Adapting Horror Author's Work – TCA". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 16 August 2020.
- Goldberg, Lesley (25 August 2020). "Cynthia Erivo Inks First-Look Deal With MRC TV, Civic Center Media". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 26 August 2020.
- Petski, Denise (25 August 2020). "Cynthia Erivo Inks First-Look Deal With MRC Television & Civic Center Media, Launches Production Company". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 26 August 2020.
- D'Alessandro, Anthony (7 February 2020). "'Chaos Walking': Daisy Ridley-Tom Holland Pic Gets Release Date". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 26 August 2020.
- Braxton, Greg (17 March 2021). "Cynthia Erivo is no stranger to 'tectonic' roles. And 'Aretha' may be her greatest yet". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 17 March 2021. Retrieved 25 March 2021.
- Shafer, Ellise (4 June 2021). "Cynthia Erivo Drops Single 'The Good' and Reveals Album Release Date". Variety. Archived from the original on 5 June 2021. Retrieved 5 June 2021.
- Verhoeven, Beatrice (3 March 2021). "Cynthia Erivo to Play Blue Fairy in Robert Zemeckis' 'Pinocchio' (Exclusive)". TheWrap. Retrieved 7 March 2021.
- McNary, Dave (12 February 2020). "Cynthia Erivo to Star in Film Adaptation of Her Podcast 'Carrier'". Variety. Retrieved 22 May 2020.
- Paulson, Michael (22 December 2015). "The Actress Cynthia Erivo Rises With 'The Color Purple'". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 August 2020.
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- "Cynthia Erivo and Clarke Peters cast in How to Succeed concert". The Stage. Retrieved 24 March 2020.
- "A Midsummer Night's Dream". Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse theatres. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
- "Ch. 1 Vs. 1 (DD)". Apple Music. Retrieved 9 June 2021.
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