When someone racks up awards across a variety of disciplines, you know they’ve got something. Granted, anyone who watches Cynthia Erivo perform for even a couple minutes can see she is special. Now she’s poised to be the next EGOT winner — someone who has an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony. All Erivo needs right now is the Oscar.
Erivo’s career has been on stage and in the recording studio so far. In 2018, however, Erivo has made the jump to film in a big way. She’s the heart of BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE, which opened in late September. Now Erivo co-stars in WIDOWS, as one of the toughest and most intimidating members of the crew. We’re excited to see the film, which opens on November 16.
Here’s why you need to watch this future EGOT winner.
Theatre mavens have known the 31 year-old Erivo for a while. The London native, born to Nigerian parents, started off on British television, but soon began appearing in musicals on London stages. Her two defining roles were as Deloris Van Cartier in the touring stage musical version of Sister Act, and as Celie Harris in The Color Purple.
A reprise of her Color Purple role won Erivo the Tony for Best Actress in a Musical when the show came to Broadway in 2015. The Broadway cast performed on The Today Show, and that won Erivo a Daytime Emmy along with the cast. And she’s got a Grammy for the album of that cast’s performance, too. (Erivo sang the Beach Boys song ’God Only Knows’ with John Legend, as a tribute to artists who had died in the past year, at the Grammys in 2017.)
While Erivo shot her role in WIDOWS first, another movie was released just weeks before the heist thriller. Drew Goddard’s BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE featured Erivo as Darlene Sweet, a singer with dreams of making it as a soul music star.
The character is the heart of BAD TIMES. All the other people who assemble by chance at a run-down motel have very dark hidden pasts. Darlene has her own secrets, but she’s the most empathetic one of the bunch. And Goddard organized a lot of the film around Erivo. When Darlene sings, that’s Erivo singing live on set — it’s not a cleaned-up, overdubbed performance. The movie’s long takes were often designed around allowing her to sing live, and she absolutely dominates the movie with her voice and performance.
A Hard-Hitting Widow
Now we’re about to see WIDOWS, from 12 YEARS A SLAVE and SHAME director Steve McQueen. Erivo stars alongside Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Brian Tyree Henry, Daniel Kaluuya, and many more heavyweights. The story follows a group of women whose criminal husbands are killed while holding two million dollars stolen from an underworld leader with political ambitions. The widows have to pay back that money or face horrific consequences — so they hatch a criminal plot of their own.
As Belle O’Reilly, Erivo sports cropped, bleached hair, and costuming that shows off her impressive physique. And when Belle is fighting, know that Erivo is really throwing the punches. She told the LA Times,
I like to do as much of whatever I’m doing myself… I think that comes from being on stage because you do everything yourself… If there are stunts that need to happen, I want to do them myself. I don’t want to see the back of someone else’s head that’s supposed to be mine.
Erivo has three more movies coming: CHAOS WALKING, from Doug Liman, which also features Tom Holland, Daisy Ridley, and Mads Mikkelsen. She’s in the sci-fi movie NEEDLE IN A TIMESTACK, directed by 12 YEARS A SLAVE writer John Ridley, and in HARRIET, in which she stars as abolitionist Harriet Tubman. For now, we’re on the edge of our seats waiting for WIDOWS, which will certainly confirm Erivo’s big-screen talent. The only question will be: which of these roles will earn her that Oscar?
WIDOWS opens on November 16.