“To receive two Oscar nominations for a film paying tribute to Harriet Tubman, a person whose heart and spirit are the embodiment of courage, makes this morning’s news beyond anything I could have ever imagined. This is more than a dream come true,” Erivo said in a statement to ET. “When I got the opportunity to play this incredible woman, I felt truly honored that Kasi and our producers saw fit to have me play the part; being asked to co-write and perform the song in the film was the icing on an already wonderful cake. I continue to feel overwhelmed with gratitude today to the Academy for recognizing my performance and our song ‘Stand Up’.”
Erivo is now the third person after Mary J. Blige and Lady Gaga to earn dual Oscar nominations for acting and song in the same year. Blige was recognized by the 90th Academy Awards for her work on the Netflix film Mudbound while Gaga was nominated for Best Actress and Original Song for A Star Is Born in 2019. (She took home the latter for co-writing the film's hit song, "Shallow.")
Meanwhile, Erivo is no stranger to accolades. The actress has previously won a daytime Emmy, a GRAMMY, and a Tony Award for her performance in the Broadway revival of The Color Purple, leaving her one Oscar away from a coveted EGOT. Thanks to Harriet, which also marks the 32-year-old actress’ first leading film role, that could all change.
“It feels a bit like a dream,” Erivo told ET’s Lauren Zima last fall, adding that winning an EGOT would be amazing. “I mean, I didn’t expect that would happen. I came here to do a Broadway show. And I didn’t know that you could get all that from a Broadway show because that was the dream. And to be here now is amazing.” No matter what happens, the actress says she’s “just trying to enjoy it and ride the wave and just be present as much as I possibly can because it’s new and I want to make sure that I remember [it all].”
In Harriet, from director Kasi Lemmons and writer Gregory Allen Howard, Erivo stars as the American hero, whose long life saw her escape from slavery to become a conductor on the Underground Railroad to later play a role in the Civil War and work as a suffragette until her death in 1913. The biopic is a historic undertaking that’s been decades in the making, making Erivo the first woman to portray Tubman in a feature film.
Since its release, Erivo has garnered a number of accolades, including two Golden Globe nominations, two Critics’ Choice Award nominations, as well as the Breakthrough Performance Award at the Palm Springs International Film Festival. When it comes to all the awards season buzz and recognition, Lemmons says, “I really think that she’s as good as any actress who has ever played anything.”
Following her nominations for the 2020 Golden Globes, Erivo said in a statement to ET that “bringing Harriet Tubman to life for the first time on the big screen has meant the world to me, and to do so with an incredibly talented and diverse group of filmmakers has been an absolute honor. To be nominated for both my performance and the song I had the privilege to co-write for the film is a testament to Harriet's enduring legacy and a celebration of her incredible story, which is long overdue.”
The 92nd annual Academy Awards will be handed out live from the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, California on Sunday, Feb. 9 starting at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT on ABC.