Nigeria’s Cynthia Erivo has been nominated for best actress for her portrayal as Harriet Tubman in Harriet and best original song for co-writing and performing the film’s number “Stand Up,” at the Oscars 2020 Awards. She is the only black actor nominated in an acting category.
Cynthia Onyedinmanasu Chinasaokwu Erivo was born to Nigerian parents in Stockwell, South London. She was raised by her mother, a nurse who according to the singer-actress seemed to know that her daughter would take to the performing arts.
Erivo began a music psychology degree at the University of East London; however, a year into her degree, she applied to, and subsequently trained at, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.
She is known for her performance as Celie in the Broadway revival of The Color Purple, for which she won the 2016 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical, the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical, the Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album, and the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Musical Performance in a Daytime Program, the last two she shared with the rest of the cast.
Erivo ventured into films in 2018, with roles in the heist film Widows and the thriller Bad Times at the El Royale. In 2019, she portrayed abolitionist Harriet Tubman in the biopic Harriet, for which she earned a nominations for an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award.
Oscar’s 2020 Nomination
The actress and singer is nominated for best actress for her portrayal as Harriet Tubman in Harriet and best original song for co-writing and performing the film’s number “Stand Up” .
This makes Erivo just the 11th black actress to gain a nomination for a leading role in Oscars history. If she wins , it’ll make her the second black woman to take the award home after Halle Berry’s win for “Monster’s Ball” in 2001.
Erivo was notably the only black person nominated in an acting category for the 2020 Oscars.
“It’s not enough that I’m the only one. It just isn’t,” she told the New York Times this week, noting “far too much work was done this year by incredible women and men of color that should be celebrated.”
The biggest snubs include, Eddie Murphy in Dolemite Is My Name, Lupita Nyong’o in Us, and Jamie Foxx in Just Mercy, Queen & Slim director Melina Matsouka amongst others.
The double nomination also make Erivo the third person to earn dual Oscar nominations for acting and for best song in the same year.
Mary J. Blige was previously recognized at the 90th Academy Awards in the best supporting actress and best original song categories for Mudbound, while Lady Gaga was up for best actress and best original song for A Star Is Born in 2018. She won the latter category.
With a Tony and Grammy in the bag, the 30-year-old actress has an opportunity to join the dozen people who have won the EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony).