‘Harriet’ Star Cynthia Erivo Lands Double Golden Globe Nominations, Talks Harriet Tubman & Aretha Franklin

Amanda N'Duka

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Multiple-award-winning actress Cynthia Erivo has entered Golden Globes race with two nominations, one for her starring performance as famous abolitionist and American hero Harriet Tubman in the Focus Features biopic, Harriet, as well as for the film’s original song Stand Up which co-wrote with Joshuah Brian Campbell.

“Finally, we get to see her,” proclaimed Erivo while speaking to Deadline following this morning’s announcements. “I think she’s been a picture for so long or a monument. Our history books don’t really talk about her life. She’s almost a paragraph and only a paragraph. Now we get to at least have an image. We get to know a little bit more of who she was as a person. Hopefully what that will do is encourage more storytellers to tell her story again and again.”

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Through the song, Erivo “wanted to reencourage people to know that we have a responsibility to fight just like she did.”

“I wanted people to know that the work that she did was special and important. I wanted to pay homage to who she was and what she had done and the legacy she had left behind which is probably why it ends with the line ‘I go to prepare a place for you’ which was her final line [before she passed away]”

Going from one iconic female figure to another, Erivo will be taking on the role of legendary crooner Aretha Franklin in the National Geographic anthology series, Genius.

“We are flipping through about 30 years of her life, from the 60s into the 90s, and we’re going back and forth in time. So you’re seeing where she is now and where she’s come from as a little girl and what led to her the performer. It’s an exploration of how she’s a genius and how her genius came about, the way in which she makes her music and the influences that took her there,” said Erivo.

“So it’s about, for me, the reading and learning of her music, which I know efficiently because I’ve been singing it since I was a little girl, and now reintroducing myself to her and getting to know her on a more personal basis. She’s an interesting woman with a full and, at times, a heartbreaking life but somehow managed to come through all of that and create brilliance.”

On how the two roles relate to one another, Erivo remarked, “For me, it’s about telling the story of women who on the outset are very different but who have a particular kind of strength and they strive to be great not because of anyone other than themselves. They somehow find steel within themselves that tells them what they are supposed to be doing. They find their purpose and go straight forward.”

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