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Cynthia Erivo: I learnt a lot from portraying ‘Queen of Soul’ Aretha Franklin

The actress starred as the musician in Genius: Aretha.


Cynthia Erivo (Yui Mok/PA)

Cynthia Erivo (Yui Mok/PA)

Cynthia Erivo (Yui Mok/PA)

Actress Cynthia Erivo has said she “learnt a lot” by portraying Aretha Franklin in a television series.

She played the singer, dubbed the Queen of Soul, in National Geographic’s Genius: Aretha.

Erivo, who is also a musician, said portraying Franklin informed her understanding of the music industry.

Speaking at the Harper’s Bazaar Women of the Year Awards, she told the PA news agency: “She’s one of the women who really is the epitome of resilience and determination, and her artistry knows no bounds.

“I learnt a lot about how to navigate through the music industry and how to navigate through music, and how to decide what you want and be steadfast in it.

“She was an incredible women and did not have it easy, but she still kept going.”

Franklin “took no prisoners and wasn’t afraid to ask for what she deserved”, Erivo added.


Cynthia Erivo (Ian West/PA)

Cynthia Erivo (Ian West/PA)

Cynthia Erivo (Ian West/PA)

“When she finally decided to ask for a producer’s credit on her album Amazing Grace it was a big moment for her and it shifted the way in which the music industry saw women in their music,” she said.

“Because often we were just the artists, and only the artists, and couldn’t really have any autonomy and she changed that.”

Oscar-nominated actress Erivo, 34, won the music award in recognition of playing Franklin at the awards ceremony on Tuesday.

“It was wonderful to be able to be celebrated because of her, because it kind of feels like it’s in part for her,” Erivo said.

She added she was “really overwhelmed and surprised and really proud” to have been given the prize.

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Erivo’s debut solo album, titled Ch. 1, Vs. 1, was released earlier this year.

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