Cynthia Erivo

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“I think that with music, we have a bit of a superpower...And that’s the way I think we can change things. That’s the tool I’ve been given to help to change things,” Cynthia Erivo told a TED2017 audience last April, as she expressed the universality of music as a language. Anyone would agree, music does connect us all, especially a voice like Cynthia Erivo’s. A graduate of London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, one of the most prestigious drama schools in the world, Erivo has been acting and singing since she was 11 years old. She was always encouraged to pursue her passions. Her mother, Edith, was instrumental in readying her for her current success. “She seemed to know the arts was where I was headed before I did, so the moment I uttered the words, the moment I said to her, ‘I want to be an actress, I want to sing,’ she said, ‘Well great, you just have to work really hard then,’” she told Allison P. Davis of Vulture.

And work hard she did. Born to Nigerian parents, the British actress and songstress has assembled the most esteemed distinctions for her role as “Celie” in the Broadway revival of The Color Purple—A Tony for Best Lead Actress in a Musical, a Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album, and a Daytime Emmy for Best Musical Performance in a Daytime Program. An Oscar, the missing link to EGOT status, is surely on its way. In the next two years she’ll be gracing the silver screen in four films: Drew Goddard's Bad Times at the El Royale, Steve McQueen's Widows, Doug Liman’s Chaos Walking and Seith Mann’s Harriet, where she’ll play the title role of one of the most important women in American history, Harriet Tubman. “I still wake up and pinch myself because I did not realize that all of this would happen all at once,” she told Page Six. “I am ready for it all.”

ArtsTeneille Craig