LUTHER: THE FALLEN SUN Star Cynthia Erivo Covers SHAPE’s The Power Issue

Posted on March 08, 2023

Even as she’s famously portrayed strong women like Harriet Tubman, Aretha Franklin, her latest role as detective Odette Raine in Luther: The Fallen Sun, and her much-anticipated Elphaba in the film adaptation of Wicked, she’s driven by vulnerability.

“Elphaba has this power she has no idea what to do with or where it comes from.” says Erivo. “And has to make the decision to lean into whatever she has, and try to understand it while being completely different and completely in opposition to what most people deem beautiful or good or right.”

This comfort with vulnerability and authenticity isn’t just acting, for Erivo. In her interview addressing SHAPE’s themes for The Power Issue, she shared the different ways she feels powerful — from cutting off her hair, coming out as queer, running marathons, and of course, portraying powerful women on screen.

“Being powerful is every day finding what the most authentic version of yourself is that day and sticking with it, not allowing other people’s perception of who you are or what you are sway you,” she says. “How you feel about yourself — that’s powerful for me.”



Why she finally cut off all of her shoulder-length hair: “I remember saying to myself, I’d like to walk into a room and have people just see my face.”

“[My hairdresser] would only cut some of it. So I left with a haircut that I didn’t want,” Erivo says. “I allowed [my hairdresser’s] fears or something she was projecting onto me to affect how I made my decision.”

“My beauty doesn’t stem from how I do my hair,” she realized after she finally got the dramatic cut she wanted.

On coming out as queer in British Vogue last summer: “That felt like a really wonderful moment to let myself be completely who I am,” she says. “[Now] I’m not spending time pretending to be anything other than [myself], which means my brain and my body and everything is free to create the way I want to, and I’m not using any energy in the wrong way.”

The power of exercise and running marathons: “[Exercise] is the thing that keeps my brain working. Otherwise, I start flagging halfway through the day,” Erivo says, “I’d rather get up early, get a workout in, and be able to move through the day, then struggle halfway through the day because I haven’t taken the time to work for myself.”

“There is something about [the marathon], that’s not necessarily just physical. I love the fact that you have to engage with your brain, your mind, your heart, in order to keep going,” she says. “There’s just something about that 26.2 miles that forces you to be really in touch with yourself while you’re running.”

Her view on practicing self-care: “I think it is possible to be good to yourself in increments every single day, so that you’re not yearning for something by the end of the week or yearning for something at the end of the month,” she says. “That you are actually actively doing it every day, so that you never feel like you’re depleted, and you always feel like you’re whole.”




[Photo Credit: Danika Magdelena for Shape Magazine]

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