Actress, producer, singer, and prolific songwriter Cynthia Erivo has built a worthy resume of celebrated and well-received roles portraying historic Black women. Her autobiographical portrayal of Harriet Tubman in the film Harriet alone has earned the actress numerous accolades, including two Oscar nominations, two Golden Globe nominations, and four NAACP Image Award nominations. For her outstanding work in the Broadway adaptation of The Color Purple, Erivo became a Tony, Emmy, and Grammy Award winner.
The critically-acclaimed actress will be honored during this year’s first-ever virtual ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood ceremony airing on Essence.com and Essencestudios.com at 7 pm EST on April 22. As we prepare to celebrate her remarkable journey, keep scrolling for a few key moments in the petite powerhouse’s career.
The ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood Awards are presented by Ford and sponsored by American Airlines, Coca-Cola, Korbel and L’Oréal Paris.
Her Role as Celie in the Broadway Musical, The Color Purple
Erivo starred as Celie in the Broadway musical revival, from 2015 to 2017, of which she eanred the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical and the Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album in 2016, among many other awards and nominations for her role. Her performance of the song “I’m Here” from the musical adaptation is enough to send chills down your spine.
(Photo by Mark Sagliocco/Getty Images)
Her Role as Harriet Tubman
Erivo’s performance in the film was well-received by both critics and audiences who praised Erivo for her portrayal, with Rex Reed from the New York Observer, writing: “Cynthia Erivo’s valiant and committed performance is a wonderful achievement.” For her work, in addition to her nominations for the powerful song “Stand Up,” she was nominated for a Golden Globe, Academy Award, and two NAACP Image Awards.
(Photo by Michael Tran/WireImage)
Her Performance of “Stand Up” for the 2020 Oscars
Co-written by the film’s star and singer herself, the aforementioned song is from the motion picture, Harriet. For the song alone, she received Oscar, Grammy, and Golden Globe nominations. Her performance at last year’s Oscars was enough to keep us talking for years to come.
(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Her Role as Aretha Franklin in Genius
Erivo landed the lead role playing the soul singer in the National Geographic series after singing a portion of Franklin’s hit “Ain’t No Way” during an interview on the red carpet at the 2019 Tony Awards. Erivo’s vocal talents are on full display in the four-part installment centered around the Queen of Soul.
(Credit: National Geographic/Richard DuCree)
Her Performance of “Imagine”
Donned in a beaded gown, Erivo belted out the lyrics to John Lennon’s “Imagine,” for the Grammys Salute to the Sounds of Change in March of this year. Although the clip is short, it gives just a small glimpse into yet another astounding performance.
(Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)
Her Role as Holly Gibney in HBO’s The Outsider
Erivo shined as Holly Gibney in the HBO thriller series, gaining praise from both critics and audiences alike. In The Outsider, her character is a private investigator who relies on her unusual abilities to help solve a mysterious case. For her work, the actress was nominated for both Critics Choice Television and Critics Choice Super Awards.
(Photo by Chris Delmas / AFP) (Photo by CHRIS DELMAS/AFP via Getty Images)
Her Ability to Emulate Ella Fitzgerald & Sam Cooke
In an impressive song association on The Terrell Show, the actress and singer leaves the host speechless when she is able to flawlessly execute songs from Sam Cooke, Ella Fitzgerald and even Floetry.
(Photo by: Tyler Essary/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Her Role As Darlene Sweet in Bad Times at the El Royale
As the character is aptly named, Ervio was able to bring a sort of sweetness to her role as Darlene Sweet in the 2018 film, Bad Times at the El Royale. Although its opening weekend faced some serious competition, it was Erivo’s performance in the thriller that made her yet again a standout.
(Photo by Steven Ferdman/Getty Images)
Her Renditions of Prince, Mary J. Blige & Brandy for Elle Magazine
How else can you prove just how talented you are than blowing everyone away in another game of Song Association? Working with words like kiss, freedom, and love, Erivo lent her beautiful vocals to some of the greatest classics for Elle Magazine.
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Starring In The Thriller Podcast, Carrier
Yes, you read that right. In addition to her other numerous talents, the actress lent her voice to star in the thriller podcast, Carrier. The chilling series centers around a truck driver picking up a loaded trailer, having no idea what’s really inside. (So many chills.)