Written by Antoinette Alba
Photography by Ram Shergill
Make-Up by Natasha Lakic using NARS
Dress by Marcin Lobacz
Cynthia Erivo is one of the world’s rising stars. Coming from London she makes her Broadway debut this December in The Color Purple alongside Jennifer Hudson and Danielle Brooks. Having previously played the touching role of Celie in The Color Purple at the Menier Chocolate Factory in London under the direction of John Doyle, the show and Erivo’s performance in particular had British audiences captured and moved.
The first time we heard her singing we were captivated by the emotion that Erivo emanates in her voice. A true powerhouse, Erivo has enjoyed a training at one of London’s most prestigious institutions, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Singing from an early age, she has so far starred in numerous plays in London showing both of her talents – from Shakespeare on stage to moving a grand audience at the O2 Arena.
Erivo approaches The Color Purple as another extremely important story to share.
“It’s a story of a woman who doesn’t realise she’s in a place that she shouldn’t be and going through things that no human should ever go through but accepting them as normal and then watching her learn that that’s not the way anyone should live; she learns to build herself up and learns to love again. Being able to tell this story is very special and it’s a huge responsibility because you don’t want to make it trivial, you don’t want to stand on the outside. You need to be on the inside of that story so you can tell it truthfully.”
In Erivo’s eyes, you never know who is going to be out in that crowd, who’s going to truly be listening and who needs to hear this timeless story. It’s an ode to women, to relationships, and most importantly to the courage to let God lead and to fall in love with yourself. In an interview for Playbill, she talks about the film and Whoopi Goldberg’s performance as powerful. “I think that her performance was incredible, and I just wanted to make sure that when I did it, it was both honourable to what she has done and honourable to myself as an actor and to the piece that we were creating."
The added element of working with Jennifer Hudson and Danielle Brooks, who play Shug Avery and Sofia, make it all the more exciting! Erivo describes the trio as a not just a team but as teachers to each other.
“I’ve sort of come from the opposite direction. So, they’re coming at it from music, fame, TV and film and I’m coming in from the other end which is right onstage–in front of people, eight times a week theatre. When we met we realised we all had something to teach each other.” The chemistry between Erivo and Hudson who play best friends in The Color Purple is truly something amazing to see as they vocalised some of the songs for the show in the recording studio. Their voices intertwine with one another as they harmonise in notes that break your heart and move your soul.
The performance of “My Funny Valentine” by Cynthia Erivo that we present to you here is soft, touching and smooth, but Erivo has many facets and a powerful voice - and is certainly a force to reckon with on international level, not only in 2016 but far beyond.
Read a full feature on Cynthia Erivo in the upcoming hardback print edition of The Protagonist Magazine early next year.