British actress Cynthia Erivo received her first two Oscar nominations on Monday morning for her role as iconic freedom fighter and abolitionist Harriet Tubman in Kasi Lemmons' "Harriet," and for co-writing the original song and anthem. "Stand Up" (with Joshuah Brian Campbell).
Following notable contempt from artists such as Jennifer Lopez ("Hustlers"), Jamie Foxx ("Just Mercy") and Lupita Nyong & # 39; o ("Us"), Erivo was the only Oscar-nominated person of color. actor. year.
Hours after the announcement of the nominations Monday morning, Erivo called from Japan, where he had just landed to discuss his nominations and the legacy of #OscarsSoWhite.
First of all, congratulations! What were you doing when you got the news?
Cynthia Erivo: Thanks. I was, however, many meters and kilometers in the air, en route to Japan on a plane.
Who gave you the news?
I found out that I had Wi-Fi on the plane, I connected my phone to Wi-Fi, and I think it would last about an hour after it was announced. And a lot of people gave me the news because a lot of tweets, messages, texts, voice messages and DMs started to appear. I don't remember what was the first text message I received, it all happened.
Who was the first person you answered?
Who was the first person I answered? I have no idea, I don't even remember. I think I probably texted my mom first because I didn't know she realized what was going on. She is in London, so the news was not released much later. I must have sent a message to my mother and sister first and then I probably sent a message to my agent and my PR because we needed to talk. I may be wrong, because I don't even remember.
Do you mind me asking what you are doing in Japan?
I have a concert. I am singing in three shows that I will do with two other artists.
How will you celebrate? Will you do it there or wait until you get back?
I think I'll wait until I get back to do this with my friends and family. Here I go to work. I can buy something cool for me (laughs).
How does it feel to be the only candidate for colored actor?
It's really bittersweet because, while I was working very hard for what was going on, I would also love to celebrate with other colored people who worked very hard this year too. I believe there was incredible work this year and beautiful pieces that came out not only by people of color, but also by directors. So I hope to be able to represent us well as soon as the celebration happens.
Cynthia Erivo stars as Harriet Tubman in "Harriet".
(Glen Wilson / Focus Resources)
Did you know that if you win you will become the youngest and fastest EGOT winner in history?
I was told that, yes. What is madness. But no, I didn't think it would be right now (in my career), because I didn't even know it was possible to do all these things with a Broadway musical. So it is simply wonderful to discuss it that way.
What was your reaction when BAFTA asked you to act, even though you didn't nominate any colored actors?
It was a no, really, because I felt it was indicative of what they thought of (colored) artists like me. I just thought it made no sense to go and play when there was literally – none.
What does it feel like to gain recognition for playing such an iconic historical figure?
It's great because, with luck, it means that people will start learning about her and want to be interested in the work Harriet has done. I hope this makes her proud, I hope her family is proud. I hope people see this and want to know more about it. Glad to be one of the representatives of your story. And I hope this encourages more people to tell the story.
You are the 11th black woman to be nominated for a leading actress trophy in Oscar history. Does it create pressure to be in a potentially historical position so early in your career?
I don't think it creates pressure (but) I find it sad that there is only one colored woman who has won this award. I hope that will change at some point. I hope this will stop becoming an anomaly when this happens. There are a lot of black, black women working in this industry who deserve and deserve to be celebrated in this way, and I hope this starts to become more norm, to be honest. Being eleventh is impressive, and I hope that will change at some point.
As the academy often neglects color artists, do you think we should keep evaluating their opinions on the best films and performances of the year?
Yes and no. It's a hard question to answer because I think there are people who believe in good movies and good actors. But I think sometimes it's subjective. I think it's also up to us to celebrate plays that aren't necessarily celebrated in awards ceremonies in our own way, because not being nominated doesn't make it a good movie. Something may be beautiful and not celebrated, but it is up to us to make sure it does. It's what I think. Yes, it highlights some of the movies of the year that are great, but if some of those movies are missing, I think our job is to highlight those movies to make sure people see them.