Cynthia Erivo

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 Tony Award and a Grammy Award, and has been nominated for two Academy Awards.

Cynthia Erivo
Cynthia Erivo (82023) (cropped).jpg
Erivo at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival
Cynthia Onyedinmanasu Chinasaokwu Erivo[1][2]

(1987-01-08) 8 January 1987 (age 33)
Stockwell, London, England
Alma materRoyal Academy of Dramatic Art
OccupationActress, singer, songwriter
Years active2011–present
AwardsFull list
Musical career

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, among others. She ventured into films in 2018, with roles in the heist film Widows and the thriller Bad Times at the El Royale. Erivo portrayed the abolitionist Harriet Tubman in the biopic Harriet (2019), receiving Academy Award nominations for Best Actress and Best Original Song. In 2020, Erivo starred in the crime drama miniseries The Outsider.

Early life and educationEdit

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]



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.

Erivo in 2018

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

She is also featured as a recording artist, co-writing and performing "Fly Before You Fall" on the soundtrack to the American musical drama Beyond the Lights.[4]

She made her Broadway debut in the 2015 Broadway revival transfer of the Menier Chocolate Factory production of The Color Purple,[17] reprising her role as Celie Harris alongside American actresses Jennifer Hudson as Shug Avery and Danielle Brooks as Sofia.[18] The production began performances at Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, from 10 December 2015.[19] 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.[20]

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.[21]

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.[22] 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.[23]

Film and televisionEdit

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.[24] Also that year, she starred in Steve McQueen's Widows, alongside Viola Davis,[25] in the first cinema role she had filmed during the summer of 2017,[26] with the film having been released on 16 November.

Erivo portrayed the title role in Harriet, a biographical film about American abolitionist Harriet Tubman.[27][28] The film began production in October 2018,[29] completed filming in January 2019, and was released on 1 November 2019.[30] Her performance earned her a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama;[31] she also received a second nomination for Best Original Song for a song she co-wrote and performed for the film entitled "Stand Up".[32] 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".[33]

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;[34][35][36] She will appear in Chaos Walking, based on Patrick Ness' novels trilogy of the same title, which is scheduled for a 22 January 2021 release.[37] Erivo is also set to produce and star in a science fiction thriller film adaption of the podcast Carrier, reprising the role of Raylene, whom Erivo voiced in the podcast.[38]


In 2019, Erivo produced and starred in the seven-episode scripted science fiction thriller podcast Carrier from audio firm Qcode Media, playing the lead role of Raylene Watts, a long-haul truck driver transporting a trailer with "disturbing, mysterious contents".[39][40]

Personal lifeEdit

In 2013, Erivo confirmed her relationship with actor and singer, Dean John-Wilson.[41] In June 2016, the day after winning her Tony Award, Erivo met Mario Martinez; the pair later began dating in late 2017.[42][43]



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


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) Season 2
2019 American Idol Herself 1 episode
2020 The Outsider Holly Gibney Miniseries
2020 Genius Aretha Franklin Season 3

Theatre creditsEdit

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
2015 How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying[44] Rosemary Pilkington Royal Festival Hall Off-West End
2015 A Midsummer Night's Dream[45] 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



Studio albumsEdit

List of albums, with selected information
Title Album details
Cynthia Erivo and Oliver Tompsett Sing Scott Alan (with Oliver Tompsett & Scott Alan)

Soundtrack and cast albumsEdit

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 artistEdit

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 Harriet (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

As featured artistEdit

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 appearancesEdit

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)

Awards and nominationsEdit


  1. ^ "@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…"".
  2. ^ "Family Search". Retrieved 26 February 2019. (subscription required)
  3. ^ "Cynthia Erivo Explores ASMR". W Magazine. 12 October 2018. Retrieved 20 April 2019.
  4. ^ a b 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". Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  5. ^ "Cynthia Erivo Reveals How She Accessed Sadness to Portray Harriet Tubman". 28 October 2019.
  6. ^ John, Emma (27 July 2015). "Move over Whoopi! How Cynthia Erivo made The Color Purple her own". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
  7. ^ Bosanquet, Theo (19 November 2014). "Leading Ladies: Cynthia Erivo 'I want to do everything'". What's On Stage. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
  8. ^ Hemley, Matthew (26 July 2015). "Cynthia Erivo: 'You have to drag me off the stage'". The Stage. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
  9. ^ "I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw The Sky, Theatre Royal Stratford East". The Arts Desk. Retrieved 17 September 2018.
  10. ^ McCrum, Robert (20 July 2013). "The Color Purple – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
  11. ^ Gilbert, Ryan (3 June 2013). "Complete Casting Announced for The Color Purple at London's Menier Chocolate Factory". Retrieved 13 December 2015.
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ McNally, Kelby (22 May 2013). "'I Can't Sing': Harry Hill reveals name of his X Factor musical". Sunday Express. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
  15. ^ "X Factor musical I Can't Sing! to close early". BBC News. 27 April 2014. Retrieved 27 April 2014.
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ "The Color Purple: Cynthia Erivo wows critics in Broadway debut". BBC News. 11 December 2015. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
  18. ^ "Cynthia Erivo to join Jennifer Hudson in 'The Color Purple'". The Guardian. Associated Press. 17 March 2015.
  19. ^ Viagas, Robert (16 March 2015). "Breakout London Star Cynthia Erivo Wins Plum Lead in Broadway Color Purple Revival". Playbill. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
  20. ^ Piepenburg, Erik (11 August 2016). "Cynthia Erivo and Joshua Henry to Star in 'Last Five Years' Benefit". New York Times. Retrieved 13 August 2016.
  21. ^ Brown, Eric (12 February 2017). "John Legend and Cynthia Erivo Honor Those We've Lost at Grammys". People. Retrieved 23 February 2017.
  22. ^ 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.
  23. ^ 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.
  24. ^ "Tony Winner Cynthia Erivo Joins Drew Goddard's 'Bad Times at the El Royale' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
  25. ^ Kroll, Justin (11 November 2016). "'The Color Purple' Actress Cynthia Erivo Joins Viola Davis in Steve McQueen's 'Widows'". Variety. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  26. ^ "Widows". Directors Guild of America. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
  27. ^ "Cynthia Erivo Will Play Harriet Tubman in New Film Harriet" by Andrew Gans, Playbill, 8 February 2017
  28. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (8 February 2017). "Cynthia Erivo To Star As Harriet Tubman In Upcoming 'Harriet' Biopic". Deadline. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  29. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (13 September 2018). "Focus Features Moving Forward With Harriet Tubman Pic Starring Cynthia Erivo".
  30. ^ Brown, Stacy M. "New film honors the life of Harriet Tubman". Insight News. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  31. ^ "Golden Globes 2020: The Complete Nominations List". Variety. 9 December 2019. Retrieved 9 December 2019.
  32. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (9 December 2019). "'Harriet' Star Cynthia Erivo Lands Double Golden Globe Nominations, Talks Harriet Tubman & Aretha Franklin". Deadline Hollywood.
  33. ^ Abad-Santos, Alex; Wilkinson, Alissa (13 January 2020). "Oscars 2020: the full list of nominees". Vox.
  34. ^ 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. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  35. ^ "HBO's Stephen King Series 'The Outsider' Fills Out Cast". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  36. ^ 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.
  37. ^ "Cynthia Erivo Joins Daisy Ridley in 'Chaos Walking' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
  38. ^ McNary, Dave (12 February 2020). "Cynthia Erivo to Star in Film Adaptation of Her Podcast 'Carrier'". Variety. Retrieved 22 May 2020.
  39. ^ "Carrier – QCODE". QCODE. Retrieved 21 August 2019.
  40. ^ Wiseman, Andreas (9 July 2019). "'Carrier' Podcast First Trailer: Upcoming Thriller Stars 'Bad Times At The El Royale's Cynthia Erivo". Deadline Holywood. Retrieved 22 May 2020.
  41. ^ "Tony Winner Cynthia Erivo Joins Boyfriend Dean John-Wilson at London Aladdin Opening". Theater Mania. 16 June 2016.
  42. ^ Bowles, Hamish (17 October 2018). "Tony Award winning Cynthia Erivo on Taking the Leap from Stage to Screen". Vogue.
  43. ^ Desta, Yohana (15 October 2019). "How Cynthia Erivo Found Her Voice". Vanity Fair.
  44. ^ "Cynthia Erivo and Clarke Peters cast in How to Succeed concert". The Stage. Retrieved 24 March 2020.
  45. ^ "A Midsummer Night's Dream". Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse theatres. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  46. ^ "Cynthia Erivo: Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved 28 October 2019.

External linksEdit