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Use Your Voice (with Cynthia Erivo)
About the Episode
My guest this week on Professional Troublemaker is my long-lost twin, another powerhouse woman from my Voltron squad, the golden-voiced and brilliant Cynthia Erivo.
If you don’t know Cynthia, I don’t know what you’re doing with your life, but as far as her official credentials go, Cynthia is a Tony®, Emmy® and Grammy® Award-winning actress, as well as Academy Award®, Golden Globe®, and SAG nominee. Cynthia played Celie in the West End and Broadway revivals of the musical “The Color Purple,” and immediately started doing all the TV and movies. She was nominated for an Academy Award for her work in “Harriet,” (That EGOT is coming soon, right?!) and she currently appears on the HBO series “The Outsider.” I cannot wait to see her play Aretha Franklin on National Geographic’s “Genius: Aretha” along with all of the other projects she’s got in the works. And my favorite performance she’s given ever was when she sang me down the aisle at my wedding in 2019.
One of the things I loved most about this conversation was learning more about Cynthia. She goes into how she got started in her career as an actress, talks about the mentors and angels that guided her to a huge opportunity to train as an actress, but also dives deep into the difficulties she faced and microaggressions she had to overcome while going through that training.
We’re talking all about how she landed her life-changing role in the West End revival of The Color Purple and why she almost didn’t get the chance to audition, as well as how she’s continued to grow and thrive in a business that is difficult to handle.
Leaning into the Professional Troublemaker life habit and doing things that are difficult for the greater good is what this podcast is all about, and this conversation left me inspired to keep showing up and bringing my best to every room I walk in.
You can follow Cynthia on Instagram at @cynthiaerivo and make sure you check out some of the links below so you can hear her sing – her voice combined with her ability to tell a story as an actress is unmatched.
• Introducing actress, singer, and soon-to-be EGOT Cynthia Erivo. (3:13)
• How Cynthia’s mom encouraged her in her gift of singing instead of pushing her to be a doctor (10:33)
• Auditioning for the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and why she did it out of spite (17:15)
• Microaggressions and misunderstanding in drama school (26:50)
• Auditioning for the role that changed everything – Celie in “The Color Purple” (38:10)
• What it felt like to leave the UK and everything she’d known to come to America and do “The Color Purple” on Broadway (50:01)
• Luvvie and Cynthia meeting at The Makers Conference for the first time and feeling like long-lost sisters (56:59)
• Why you need to be true to yourself
• How you can anchor yourself in tough moments when you’re attacked by others
• Why it’s critical to have people around you who can be truth-tellers instead of saying “yes” all the time (1:01:30)
“I like myself and I don’t have to force anybody else to like me too.” – Cynthia Erivo
“Show up with your best self, show up with the best of intentions every single time. And then keep doing the work.” – Cynthia Erivo
“Make sure that people who have made the effort or who want to know more about you, want to learn you more, get the opportunity to do so.” – Cynthia Erivo
You’re never going to prove yourself enough.
All you have to do is prove yourself to yourself.
I don’t want to be the cleverest person in the room. That allows me to not betray myself, because it means that
I’m consistently learning from those who know more than I do.
When I’m myself, that’s when I’m at my best.
And the times when I doubt whether I could do something, I’m always proved wrong.
About the Guest