Cynthia Erivo (/əˈriːvoʊ/; born 8 January 1987) is an English actress and singer. She gained recognition for starring in the Broadway revival of The Color Purple from 2015 to 2017, for which she won the 2016 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical and the Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album. Erivo ventured into films in 2018, playing roles in the heist film Widows and the thriller Bad Times at the El Royale. For her portrayal of American abolitionist Harriet Tubman in the biopic Harriet (2019), Erivo received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress; she also wrote and performed the song "Stand Up" on its soundtrack, which garnered her a nomination in the Best Original Song category.
In 2013, Erivo played the role of Celie Harris in the Menier Chocolate Factory production of The Color Purple, a role which Whoopi Goldberg had originated onscreen. Erivo had previously portrayed Sister Mary Clarence / Deloris Van Cartier in a UK tour of the stage musical Sister Act, which Goldberg had originated in its film adaptation. She is also featured on the soundtrack to the musical drama film Beyond the Lights, co-writing and performing the song "Fly Before You Fall".
Erivo originated the role of Chenice in the West End musical I Can't Sing!, which opened at the London Palladium on 26 March 2014, garnering mixed reviews. The production closed on 10 May, just six weeks and three days after its official opening night. Erivo starred in the European premiere of Dessa Rose at London's Trafalgar Studios from July to August 2014, for which she was nominated as Best Leading Actress in a musical at the 2015 BroadwayWorld UK awards.
She made her Broadway debut in the 2015 Broadway revival transfer of the Menier Chocolate Factory production of The Color Purple, reprising her role as Celie Harris alongside American actresses Jennifer Hudson as Shug Avery and Danielle Brooks as Sofia. The production began performances at Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, from 10 December 2015. Among other awards for her performance, Erivo won the 2016 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical.
In March 2017, Erivo and the cast of The Color Purple were nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award for their performance on NBC's The Today Show in May 2016. In April 2017, it was announced that Erivo and the cast of The Color Purple alongside The Today Show won the Daytime Creative Arts Emmy Award in the Outstanding Musical Performance in a Daytime Program category. In November 2017, she appeared on the charity benefit Night of Too Many Stars, hosted by Jon Stewart, where she performed a duet with frequent contributor Jodi DiPiazza of the Andra Day hit "Rise Up" they were accompanied by Questlove and The Roots.
Erivo starred as Cathy alongside Joshua Henry in a one-night benefit concert performance of Jason Robert Brown's The Last Five Years on 12 September 2016. Proceeds from the performance went to the Brady Center, a national gun violence organization. In February 2017, at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards, Erivo performed "God Only Knows" alongside John Legend, as a tribute to musicians who had died over the past year.
Erivo made her film debut in 2018 in the neo-noir thriller film Bad Times at the El Royale. Justin Chang of the Los Angeles Times deemed Erivo's performance "revelatory in the most rewarding sense". That same year, she also starred in the heist thriller film Widows, which marked the first film she had ever shot. In his review of the film for The Atlantic, David Sims highlighted Erivo's "incredible work" in portraying her character's dramatic transformation. In 2019, Erivo produced and starred in the scripted science fiction thriller podcast Carrier, voicing the lead role of Raylene Watts, a long-haul truck driver transporting a trailer with "disturbing, mysterious contents".
Erivo portrayed the title role in Harriet, a biographical film about American abolitionist Harriet Tubman. The film began production in October 2018, completed filming in January 2019, and was released on 1 November 2019. Her performance earned her a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama; she also received a second nomination for Best Original Song for a song she co-wrote and performed for the film entitled "Stand Up". In 2020, Erivo garnered nominations for two Academy Awards–one for Best Actress for her portrayal of Tubman and the other for Best Original Song for "Stand Up".
In 2020, Erivo starred as investigator Holly Gibney in the HBO miniseries The Outsider, a television adaptation of Stephen King's novel of the same name. That same year, she launched a production company named Edith's Daughter as well as signed a deal with media company MRC to develop television projects through the production company. She appeared in the science fiction film Chaos Walking, based on Patrick Ness' novel The Knife of Never Letting Go, which was released on 5 March 2021. Erivo portrayed singer Aretha Franklin in the third season of the anthology series Genius, which premiered in March 2021. She released two songs titled "The Good" and "Glowing Up" to promote her debut studio album, Ch. 1 Vs. 1, which was released on 7 September 2021. That same month, she joined the jury of the 78th Venice International Film Festival.
In July 2022, Erivo performed as part of the BBC Proms, singing tributes to women who have inspired her. Writing in The Times, John Bungey highlighted her performances of the songs "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" and "Ain't No Way". That same year, Erivo played The Blue Fairy in Disney's live-action film adaptation of Pinocchio, directed by Robert Zemeckis. In 2023, she appeared in Luther: The Fallen Sun, a film continuation of the crime drama series Luther. Erivo is set to portray Elphaba in a two-part film adaptation of the musical Wicked. She is attached to produce and star in the science fiction film Blink Speed and a film adaption of the podcast Carrier, reprising the role of Raylene.