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Renée Elise Goldsberry is among the more interesting Emmy contenders this year. She’s nominated — but not for the hilarious and celebrated performance she recently delivered in the Peacock comedy Girls5eva. No, Goldsberry is up for her Tony-winning portrayal of Angelica Schuyler in Hamilton — one she delivered in two taped performances in 2016 and finally released via Disney+ last year. A win would bring her one letter closer to achieving that enviable EGOT status — that’s an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony — but she’s not counting her acronyms before they’ve hatched.
I can’t believe I’m talking to someone on EGOT watch.
You could only have one letter, and you get on the EGOT watch.
You have two! You’re on the path.
Let me tell you, being a GT has been fantastic. If I get to be an EGT-er, I’ll be even happier. But being nominated, and I know you’ve heard this a million times, is really the best time to celebrate. That’s when the party needs to happen, as far as I’m concerned.
That’s true. People are ready to move on by the time the actual awards get handed out.
And this year means even more than any other year, because there’s that dream that we will keep it together long enough as a society to be able to come together again and truly celebrate the privilege of working.
Hamilton really seems like this evergreen thing for everyone involved — and now you’re nominated for a performance you delivered more than five years ago.
I like “evergreen.” I used to say “progressive revelation” in regard to just discovering its relevance. When we came out last year, I thought that it was going to be about giving theater to a dark world. Then George Floyd was murdered, and we discovered there’s a bigger reason. Fortunately, this piece of work that we are acknowledging and celebrating addresses this moment. To be honest, I was a bit anxious about doing Zoom press during COVID. It felt uncomfortable to be talking about performances in that world. When that summer became about Black Lives Matter, I found a reason that felt important enough to talk again. It is about the nature of this country — and what art can really do to encourage a conversation. I thought it was over, again, but now these Emmy nominations feel like the greatest gift. We get to come together that night, somehow or other, and hug each other. We haven’t seen each other in such a long time, because this group is so busy trying to save the world in other ways.
For a Broadway cast, it’s remarkable how much almost every individual’s career has exploded.
I look around and I’m like, “We can do that, too?” They’re beautiful people, and the world is filled with beautiful people, but every once in a while, some of them happen to stumble upon something that gives them a platform. It’s just fun to watch people fly.
I heard your interview with Terry Gross this year, and I was surprised by how much you spoke about your time on One Life to Live. Most people who move beyond soap operas tend to ignore that part of their careers.
Every stage of my career, I’ve thought, “Well, maybe this is it, but thank you for this.” Every step further I take is grace, so I’m hyper-aware of what lessons I learned the step before. I would be different if I hadn’t had that particular step. I spend a lot of time at this age with a lot of young actors who are more successful than me, and I marvel at how brilliantly they’re handling their careers. I wonder who I would have been if I had had success at this level much earlier.
I’m surprised that Girls5eva is the first straight-up comedy series for you. Were those scripts just not coming your way?
My team was like, “You have to do this! The world will know how funny you are.” I did get to be in Documentary Now! And, come to think of it, I was cut out of the movie Sisters that Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Paula Pell made.
Yes! I think the camera might go by me, but my storyline is on a cutting room floor somewhere because apparently, quote unquote, the movie was too long. (Laughs.) You have to say I’m laughing when I say that! Life is a forward circle, and I get to work with Tina and Paula intimately now [on Girls5eva]. Right after the movie came out, Hamilton became a thing, so I got to hug Tina and tell her, “Just to work with you was an honor, and I’m so happy you came to see Hamilton.” That time was an opportunity to meet so many people I’m such a fan of and in the best way possible. They were coming to see something I was in and so very proud of.
Interview edited for length and clarity.
This story first appeared in an August stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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