Cynthia Erivo on healing and self-reflection

A woman smiling in the background behind a plant

The British actor, singer, and songwriter reflects on the trials and revelations of 2020, and her lessons in resilience and self-honesty

By Rosalind Jana

January is traditionally a time to reflect and reset; to look back over the past year and forwards to what the future holds. This double vision feels particularly charged as we enter 2021, relieved to leave behind 2020’s tumult, but aware that this is only the start of reckoning with what lies ahead. It is a time in which change feels both active and urgent, and healing requires many forms.

As we linger at this pivotal moment, Cynthia Erivo invites in Soho House to reflect on the trials and revelations of 2020 – the lessons in healing and self-honesty that she’s learnt, the changes she wants to see, and the potential new beginnings.

For the British actor, singer and songwriter, it’s been an apt moment to pause, take stock, and keep pushing on.

The Emmy, Grammy, and Tony award-winning performer began 2020 with two Oscar nominations: one for her powerful portrayal of abolitionist and political activist Harriet Tubman in Harriet, and the other for the film’s lead song ‘Stand Up’, which Erivo co-wrote and performed.

As the world retreated inwards, Erivo kept herself quietly busy by writing a new album, recording an audiobook, finding new ways of staying grounded, and connecting with family and loved ones. In between all of that, she also found time to set up her own production company. Edith’s Daughter, named after her mother, aims to ‘tell the stories of women we don’t get to meet very often… stories that have been ignored and forgotten.’ First up is a biopic in which Erivo is set to star as Omoba Aina, later known as Sarah Forbes Bonetta – an Egbado princess of the Yoruba people who was orphaned and enslaved by a West African king and eventually ‘gifted’ to Queen Victoria (who subsequently became her godmother).

In November, Erivo finished production on National Geographic’s Genius: Aretha, playing the legendary singer herself, to be released this March.

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