Watch: Cynthia Erivo Remembers How The Color Purple Marked a New Phase of Her Life | Playbill

Video Watch: Cynthia Erivo Remembers How The Color Purple Marked a New Phase of Her Life

"All the pieces fall together and you go, 'Oh my God,'" says the Tony winner and Oscar nominee, soon to be starring as Elphaba in the screen adaptation of Wicked.

It's hard to believe now, but there was a time where Tony winner and Oscar nominee Cynthia Erivo was not a known quantity to even the most dedicated of theatre fans. She'd had major credits, sure–she starred in a U.K. national tour of Sister Act, notably. And then there was The Color Purple.

"I remember when I left my house, my sister saw me off," Erivo remembers of the moment before she left to fly to America, where she would star in the Broadway revival still relatively unknown to American audiences. She shared the experience on a recent appearance on Hart to Heart. "She goes, 'You left some of your clothes behind. Why did you do that?' I said, 'Well, why wouldn't I?' She said, 'Because you're not coming back here.' She lifts her head up because she doesn't want to cry in front of me. When she said that ... all the pieces fall together, and you go, 'Oh my God. I'm actually leaving something behind and moving on to change to another stage of my life.' And I didn't realize that this is what that was going to be."

Watch more from the interview above.

Erivo's performance as Celie in the 2015 Broadway revival of The Color Purple would earn her a 2016 Tony Award—the rare win that year that didn't go to Hamilton—and near instant superstardom. Since Broadway, Erivo earned an Oscar nomination playing Harriett Tubman in a 2019 biopic, and now she's poised to play one of her most high-profile roles yet: Elphaba in the much anticipated two-part screen adaptation of Broadway's Wicked.

Sometimes it feels like Broadway is filled to the brim with film stars leading starry revivals, but Erivo is a powerful reminder that Broadway can be quite the launching pad itself.

The first installment in the screen version of Wicked is set to hit movie theatres November 22, with the second part following in 2025.

Photos: 1st Look at the Wicked Movie

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