Date of Birth: January 8, 1987
Cynthia Erivo was born in London, England as Cynthia Onyedinmanasu Chinasaokwu Erivo to Nigerian parents. She is a British actress, singer, and songwriter best known for her Hollywood film roles in Widows (2018), Bad Times at the El Royale (2018), and her starring role as Harriet Tubman in the biopic Harriet (2019). For her work in the film, she won the Hollywood Breakthrough Award for Actress of the Year at the Hollywood Film Awards in 2019.
However, the acclaim didn't stop there. She also received nominations from the Academy Awards, the Golden Globes and at the BAFTAs, she received a nomination for the Rising Star Award.
After attending La Retraite Roman Catholic Girls’ School, Cynthia began a music psychology degree at the University of East London. However, after studying there for one year, she subsequently applied to, and was accepted at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.
Cynthia began her career in musical theater. Her first professional production came in 2010, when she was cast as Leila in I was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw the Sky at Theatre Royal Stratford East.
In 2013, Cynthia was cast as Celie Harris in the Menier Chocolate Factory production of The Color Purple, a role that was played by Whoopi Goldberg on screen. Coincidentally, Cynthia had previously played the role of Sister Mary Clarence/Deloris Van Cartier in a UK tour stage of the musical Sister Act, another role that Whoopi Goldberg had played on screen.
Cynthia also appeared in minor roles on British television programs during that time, including Chewing Gum (2015) and The Tunnel (2016).
In 2015 Cynthia made her Broadway debut in the revival transfer of the Menier Chocolate Factory production of The Color Purple. She reprised her role of Celie Harris and starred alongside Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson, who played Shug Avery, and Danielle Brooks as Sofia. Cynthia went on to win the 2016 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical.
After a couple years on Broadway, Cynthia made her Hollywood debut in 2018 starring in two notable productions. She was part of director Drew Goddard’s impressive ensemble cast for the crime mystery Bad Times at the El Royale. In the film she played the role of down-on-her-luck singer Darlene Sweet, and starred alongside heavyweights such Jeff Bridges, Jon Hamm, and Chris Hemsworth.
Cynthia was also a part of another strong ensemble cast for Oscar-winning director Steve McQueen’s Widows (2018). The film saw the acclaimed director team up with writer Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl) to adapt the '80s British TV mini-series into a feature film. It had a star-studded cast that included Oscar-winner Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Liam Neeson, Jon Bernthal, Robert Duvall, Colin Farrell, Jacki Weaver and Daniel Kaluuya.
One of her later films, and also her highest profile role to date, was in the historical drama Harriet (2019). The film was Cynthia’s first as the lead, playing the titular Harriet Tubman. Her work received positive reviews, with Cynthia earning a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama, and an Oscar nomination for Best Actress.
Most recently, Cynthia appeared in Chaos Walking (2021), an adaptation of Patrick Ness’ dystopian sci-fi novel series, alongside Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley. She also landed two major television roles in 2020: the first as investigator Holly Gibney on HBO’s adaptation of the Stephen King novel The Outsider, and as Aretha Franklin in National Geographic’s third season of Genius.