Cynthia Erivo

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Cynthia Erivo
Cynthia Erivo 2018.png
Erivo in 2018
Cynthia Onyedinmanasu Chinasaokwu Erivo[1][2]

(1987-01-08) 8 January 1987 (age 34)
Stockwell, London, England
Alma materRoyal Academy of Dramatic Art
OccupationActress, singer, songwriter
Years active2011–present
AwardsFull list
Musical career

Cynthia Onyedinmanasu Chinasaokwu Erivo (/əˈrv/;[3] 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[edit]

Erivo was born to Nigerian parents in Stockwell, South London.[4] Her mother is a nurse.[5] 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,[6] and subsequently trained at, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.[7]


2011–2017: Career beginnings and theatrical roles[edit]

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.[8] 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.[9]

In 2013, Erivo played the role of Celie Harris in the Menier Chocolate Factory production of The Color Purple,[10][11] 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,[12] 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".[4]

Erivo originated the role of Chenice in the West End musical I Can't Sing!,[13] which opened at the London Palladium on 26 March 2014, garnering mixed reviews.[14][15] The production closed on 10 May,just six weeks and three days after its official opening night.[15][16] 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.[17]

She made her Broadway debut in the 2015 Broadway revival transfer of the Menier Chocolate Factory production of The Color Purple,[18] reprising her role as Celie Harris alongside American actresses Jennifer Hudson as Shug Avery and Danielle Brooks as Sofia.[19] The production began performances at Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, from 10 December 2015.[20] 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.[21] 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.[22]

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.[23] 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.[24]

2018–present: Film career[edit]

Erivo at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival

Erivo made her film debut in 2018 in the neo-noir thriller film Bad Times at the El Royale.[25] Justin Chang of the Los Angeles Times deemed Erivo's performance "revelatory in the most rewarding sense".[26] That same year, she also starred in the heist thriller film Widows, which marked the first film she had ever shot.[27] In his review of the film for The Atlantic, David Sims highlighted Erivo's "incredible work" in selling her character's dramatic transformation.[28] 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".[29]

Erivo portrayed the title role in Harriet, a biographical film about American abolitionist Harriet Tubman.[30][31] The film began production in October 2018,[32] completed filming in January 2019, and was released on 1 November 2019.[33] Her performance earned her a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama;[34] she also received a second nomination for Best Original Song for a song she co-wrote and performed for the film entitled "Stand Up".[35] 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".[36]

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.[37][38] 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.[39][40] 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.[41] Erivo portrayed singer Aretha Franklin in the third season of the anthology series Genius, which premiered in March 2021.[42] 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.[43]

Erivo will portray The Blue Fairy in Disney's live-action film adaptation of Pinocchio, directed by Robert Zemeckis.[44] She is also set to produce and star in a film adaption of the podcast Carrier, reprising the role of Raylene.[45]

Personal life[edit]

Erivo is Roman Catholic.[46] She was in a relationship with actor and singer Dean John-Wilson.[47] She began dating Mario Martinez in 2017.[48]

Acting credits[edit]


Year Title Role Notes
2018 Widows Belle
2018 Bad Times at the El Royale Darlene Sweet
2019 Harriet Harriet Tubman
2021 Chaos Walking Hildy
TBA Needle in a Timestack TBA Post-production
TBA Pinocchio The Blue Fairy Filming


Year Title Role Notes
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


Year(s) Production Role Location Category
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[49]
2015 A Midsummer Night's Dream Puck Liverpool Everyman Regional[50]
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



Studio albums[edit]

List of albums, with selected information
Title Album details
Cynthia Erivo and Oliver Tompsett Sing Scott Alan
(with Oliver Tompsett & Scott Alan)
Ch. 1 Vs. 1
  • Scheduled: 17 September 2021[51]
  • Label: Verve Records
  • Formats: CD, digital download, streaming

Soundtrack and cast albums[edit]

List of albums, with selected information
Title Album details
The Color Purple (2015 Broadway Cast Recording)
  • Released: 19 February 2016
  • Label: Broadway Records
  • Formats: CD, digital download
Anthem: Homunculus (Original Soundtrack)
  • Released: 19 April 2019
  • Label: Ghostlight Records
  • Formats: Digital download


As lead artist[edit]

Title Year Peak chart


"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[edit]

Song Year Album
"Won't Let You Down" (Cynikal featuring Cynthia Erivo) 2012 non-album single
"I Did Something Bad (cover)" (Shoshana Bean featuring Cynthia Erivo) 2018

Other appearances[edit]

Song Year Other artist(s) Album
"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)



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  27. ^ Jones, Nate (30 October 2019). "Cynthia Erivo Answers Every Question We Have About 'Widows'". Vulture. Retrieved 16 August 2020.
  28. ^ Sims, David (15 November 2018). "'Widows': Viola Davis Steals McQueen's Heist Thriller". The Atlantic. Retrieved 16 August 2020.
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  34. ^ "Golden Globes 2020: The Complete Nominations List". Variety. 9 December 2019. Retrieved 9 December 2019.
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  43. ^ 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.
  44. ^ Verhoeven, Beatrice (3 March 2021). "Cynthia Erivo to Play Blue Fairy in Robert Zemeckis' 'Pinocchio' (Exclusive)". TheWrap. Retrieved 7 March 2021.
  45. ^ McNary, Dave (12 February 2020). "Cynthia Erivo to Star in Film Adaptation of Her Podcast 'Carrier'". Variety. Retrieved 22 May 2020.
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  49. ^ "Cynthia Erivo and Clarke Peters cast in How to Succeed concert". The Stage. Retrieved 24 March 2020.
  50. ^ "A Midsummer Night's Dream". Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse theatres. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  51. ^ "Ch. 1 Vs. 1 (DD)". Apple Music. Retrieved 9 June 2021.
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External links[edit]