Tony and Grammy Award-winning actress Cynthia Erivo is leaning on prayer to help her portray the life of American hero Harriet Tubman in the new biographical film “Harriet.”
After a pre-release screening of the movie at the Urbanworld Film Festival, cast members participated in a Q&A to discuss the making of the movie. Moderated by Michelle Miller, co-anchor of CBS This Morning Saturday, the Q&A included Erivo, director Kasi Lemmons, producer Debra Martin Chase, and other cast members.
During the session, Miller asked the panel participants to share an “aha moment” they experienced while filming, which for Erivo was deeply spiritual and personal.
Playing Harriet Tubman was not an easy feat for Erivo, as she was such a remarkable woman, with a powerful story. Erivo shared with the crowd how there was one scene in particular where Tubman was fearful of failing her first rescue mission.
Erivo said there was only one thing to do to center herself in this scene: pray.
“The only thing I could do, really, to center myself was to pray,” Erivo shared, according to AmboTV. “And I was listening to Gospel music just before I went in. And as I walked in to say that prayer, it didn’t feel like I was just saying it as Harriet. It felt like I was saying it as me.”
The actress explained how the role opened her eyes to the significance and impact faith has on one’s life, sustaining her throughout the film.
“I think the thing that happened as that was happening and throughout, was my faith got stronger,” Erivo added. “The idea that faith really can bring you through something. That was an intense ‘Oh I get it now. I understand.’’’
The synopsis for the film reads:
Based on the thrilling and inspirational life of an iconic American freedom fighter, “Harriet” tells the extraordinary tale of Harriet Tubman’s escape from slavery and transformation into one of America’s greatest heroes. Her courage, ingenuity, and tenacity freed hundreds of slaves and changed the course of history.
The moving and powerful film shows the activist rescuing more than 70 slaves on 19 different missions.
“Harriet” features Erivo as Tubamn, singer Janelle Monáe, as one of Tubman’s mentors, with Leslie Odom Jr., Jennifer Nettles and Joe Alwyn part of the cast as well. The film was directed by Kasi Lemmons, known for “Luke Cage,” written by Gregory Allen Howard, known for “Remember the Titans” and “Ali.”
The film premiers nationwide in theaters on November 1. You can watch the trailer for “Harriet” below.