“I had resigned myself to just believing it wasn’t going to happen,” says Cynthia Erivo, the British actress of Nigerian descent, on The Hollywood Reporter‘s Awards Chatter podcast as she discusses her two Oscar nominations for Harriet — best actress for her portrayal of Harriet Tubman and best original song for “Stand Up,” the tune that she co-wrote for the film with Joshuah Brian Campbell and performs over its end credits. Erivo’s double nomination made her only the third person, after Mary J. Blige and Lady Gaga, ever to receive Oscar noms for acting and music in the same year: “I was so shocked. One was enough. But to be nominated for two was beyond belief. It was ridiculous.”
Over the course of the conversation, Erivo, one of the most talented breakouts in show business — she only just turned 33, but has already won an Emmy, Grammy and Tony, leaving her just an Oscar shy of being the youngest-ever EGOT — is reflective and emotional. She speaks about her accidental journey to London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) and to a career as an actress; how she came to star in the first-ever musical adaptation of The Color Purple, and how that catapulted her to “everything” that has happened since; how she managed to adapt to screen acting, starting with Steve McQueen‘s Widows and continuing right through Harriet, which, on her shoulders, has become a breakout hit at the box office; and much more.
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LISTEN: You can hear the entire interview below.
Past guests include Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey, Lorne Michaels, Barbra Streisand, George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Robert De Niro, Jennifer Lawrence, Eddie Murphy, Gal Gadot, Warren Beatty, Angelina Jolie, Snoop Dogg, Jessica Chastain, Stephen Colbert, Reese Witherspoon, Aaron Sorkin, Margot Robbie, Ryan Reynolds, Nicole Kidman, Denzel Washington, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Matthew McConaughey, Kate Winslet, Jimmy Kimmel, Natalie Portman, Chadwick Boseman, Jennifer Lopez, Elton John, Judi Dench, Quincy Jones, Jane Fonda, Tom Hanks, Amy Schumer, Justin Timberlake, Elisabeth Moss, RuPaul, Rachel Brosnahan, Jimmy Fallon, Kris Jenner, Michael Moore, Emilia Clarke, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Helen Mirren, Tyler Perry, Sally Field, Spike Lee, Lady Gaga, J.J. Abrams, Emma Stone, Al Pacino, Julia Roberts, Jerry Seinfeld, Dolly Parton, Will Smith, Taraji P. Henson, Sacha Baron Cohen, Carol Burnett and Norman Lear.