PALM SPRINGS — Cynthia Erivo will receive the Breakthrough Performance Award at the 31st annual Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) Film Awards Gala.

The event, presented by American Express, sponsored by AT&T and Entertainment Tonight and hosted by Mary Hart, is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 2 at the Palm Springs Convention Center. The festival runs January 2-13, 2020.

“Cynthia Erivo has been a sensation in her theatrical performances and now audiences are getting to experience her on the big screen. In Harriet, she fully embodies and brings to life the tale of Harriet Tubman, whose courage saved herself and many others from a life of slavery,” Festival Chairman Harold Matzner said in a news release. “She is a star on the rise and for her portrayal that has garnered much critical acclaim and has received several award nominations it is our honor to present her with the Breakthrough Performance Award.”

Past recipients of the Breakthrough Performance Award include Mahershala Ali, Mary J. Blige, Marion Cotillard, Jennifer Hudson, Felicity Huffman, Brie Larson, Rami Malek, Lupita Nyong’o, David Oyelowo, Rosamund Pike and Jeremy Renner.  In the years they were honored, Ali, Cotillard, Hudson, Larson, Malek and Nyong’o went on to receive Academy Awards®, while Blige, Huffman, Pike and Renner received nominations.

Erivo joins this year’s previously announced honorees Antonio Banderas (International Star Award, Actor), Laura Dern (Career Achievement Award), Zack Gottsagen (Rising Star Award), Jennifer Lopez (Spotlight Award), Joaquin Phoenix (Chairman’s Award), Martin Scorsese (Sonny Bono Visionary Award), Charlize Theron (International Star Award, Actress) and Renée Zellweger (Desert Palm Achievement Award, Actress).

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 film from Focus Features is directed by Kasi Lemmons. For her role in the film, Cynthia Erivo has received two Golden Globe® award nominations for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama and Best Original Song, two Critics’ Choice award nominations for Best Actress and Best Original Song, and most recently, a Screen Actors Guild® award nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role.

Cynthia Erivo is a Tony®, Emmy® and Grammy® Award-winning actress who burst onto West End and Broadway stages in The Color Purple and has taken the big screen by storm. In 2018, Erivo made her film debut Bad Times at the El Royale, and also starred, Widows. She rounded out the year with a 2019 BAFTA EE Rising Star Award nomination for her exceptional work in film and on stage. Her upcoming film credits include the sci-fi thriller Chaos Walking, from director Doug Liman, John Ridley’s Needle in a Timestack and the musical take on the American folk tale of Rip Van Winkle. On the television side, Erivo will star in her first television project, the HBO series “The Outsider,” based on the Stephen King novel of the same name. The series will premiere on Sunday, January 12th. She is currently in production as Aretha Franklin in the next installment of the Emmy-winning global anthology series “Genius: Aretha.” This upcoming season will be the first-ever, definitive and only authorized scripted limited series on the life of the universally acclaimed Queen of Soul set for a spring 2020 premiere on National Geographic channels in 172 countries and 43 languages.

Image Sources

  • Cynthia Erivo: OWN