On the horizon, Cynthia Erivo looks like she’ll be one actress for audiences to watch going forward. The actress first made a name for herself on Broadway in 2015’s “A Color Purple” Musical adaptation. She won the Tony for Best Actress in a Musical, the only musical performer, not in “Hamilton,” to win a prize that night. Erivo will star in her first two films in 2018 with “Widows” and “Bad Times at the El Royale,” both of which feature strong ensembles. Now, she’s signing up for Kasi Lemmons and Focus Features’s “Harriet,” where she will play the legendary abolitionist and activist Harriet Tubman.
According to a press release today from Focus Features, Erivo will take on the title role in the film. Lemmons, the director of “Eve’s Bayou” and actress from “Silence of the Lambs,” will direct the feature. She also co-wrote the screenplay with Gregory Allen Howard, who also scribed “Remember the Titans” in 2000. The will be rounded out by Tony-winning actor Leslie Odom Jr., Joe Alwyn, Jennifer Nettles, and Clarke Peters.
Even the below-the-line crew features multiple award winners. Among them are costume designer Paul Tazewell and cinematographer John Toll. The film begins production in October, with an eye on releasing in 2019. In the press release, we received a synopsis of the film.
“Based on the story of iconic freedom fighter Harriet Tubman, Harriet follows Tubman on her escape from slavery and subsequent missions to free dozens of slaves through the Underground Railroad in the face of growing pre-Civil War adversity.”
Universal and Focus will distribute the film, with Debra Martin Chase and Taplin Lundberg serving as producers. Gregory Allen Howard will also get a production credit. The film stands a chance to shine a spotlight on Erivo. Look for this next Oscar season.