×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Cynthia Erivo Almost Gave Up Singing to Become a Spinal Surgeon

Before Cynthia Erivo went on to become a Tony and Grammy winner, she nearly gave up singing to be a spinal surgeon.

In her “Variety Studio: Actors on Actors” conversation with Alfre Woodard, the “Harriet” star said she had been singing since she was toddler. Her mother noticed she’d hum while eating her food when she was just 18 months old, and wrote down in her baby book that she’d go on to be a singer.

However, that natural talent was almost wasted when she was in high school.

“I had a real weird phase when I was about 16. I just stopped doing it for a second. I got shy,” Erivo said. “Everyone around me in my class, they wanted to be doctors, lawyers, nurses and I didn’t want that. I wanted to sing and act, but I felt weird because nobody else in my class would do it. I was in a class full of people who were brain boxes. I happened to be able to keep up with all those brain boxes, so I felt weird. I was just like ‘Okay, I’ll be a spinal surgeon. That’s what I’ll be.’ And I just decided I’ll do that. I realized a had a penchant for biology and I loved it and I was good at it so I was going to keep doing that.”

Luckily, one day, her mom noticed she hadn’t sung for a while, and gently nudged her to start back up again.

“She just goes, ‘Where’s your singing? Is there a concert or something we can go and listen to? Make sure you’re singing,'” Erivo recalled. “Didn’t say anything other than that. It hit me in the back of my head, like ‘Okay, I guess I can’t not do that.”

Woodard praised Erivo’s mother’s intervention: “If your baby had the voice of God coming out of them, you need to be in jail if you didn’t say, ‘Come on, honey, we’re going to the town square with this!”

Watch the full interview below:

More Film

  • Lamia Chraïbi Teams With Hicham Lasri

    Lamia Chraibi Teams With Hicham Lasri on Pan-Arab Supernatural Series 'Meskoun' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Lamia Chraibi, a leading producer of daring films from the Middle East and North Africa region, is developing “Meskoun,” an ambitious pan-Arab genre-bending series with Moroccan filmmaker Hicham Lasri (“Jahilya”) on board as showrunner. Chraibi (“Mimosas”) will produce the 14-episode series with her Moroccan banner La Prod, along with Mohamed Hefzy’s Egyptian company Film Clinic, [...]

  • Leap! first draft picks

    ATF: Leap! to Discover the Next Generation of Singapore Talent

    Singapore has launched a scheme to help find the next generation of filmmakers from the South East Asia region. Local content producers Blue3Asia and CreativesAtWork, with the support of Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority launched the Leap!, a short film production scheme at the ongoing Asian TV Forum & Market on Thursday. Seven filmmakers from [...]

  • Mikhail Red

    ScreenSingapore: Mikhail Red Announces Philippines Western ‘Arisaka’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    Cult Filipino filmmaker, Mikhail Red will direct “Arisaka,” a film named after a World War II Japanese bolt-action rifle. “It’s a Western based on a famous massacre that happened in the Philippines,” Red told Variety. Philippines production house Ten17P, whose credits include Lav Diaz’s “A Lullaby To The Sorrowful Mystery” and Paul Soriano’s “Mananita,” will [...]

  • Stephen Graham Venom 2

    'Irishman' Star Stephen Graham Joins 'Venom 2'

    Stephen Graham is set to join Tom Hardy and Michelle Williams in Sony’s “Venom 2,” with Hardy returning as the titular anti-hero. Andy Serkis is set to direct, and Naomie Harris and Woody Harrelson are also on board. Sony had no comment on the casting. The original film was a huge hit for the studio [...]

  • Sundance Winner Eugene Jarecki Prepares ‘Tuareg

    Sundance Winner Eugene Jarecki Prepares 'Tuareg Project' in Morocco

    Eugene Jarecki – two times winner of the Sundance Grand Jury Prize – for “Why We Fight” (2005) and “The House I Live In” (2012) – is preparing an untitled “Tuareg Project,” that he will shoot in Morocco. The pic will be produced by Addison O’Dea (“Discovery TRVLR”), and line produced by Moroccan producer Zakaria [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content