September Spotlight: Cynthia Erivo and Dev Patel
It’s often said that there’s no business like show business – especially when it comes to the degree of competitiveness. This fact is made even more apparent by the sheer number of lesser-known figures in the acting business. Cynthia Erivo and Dev Patel could both be considered underrated actors of this time – Erivo is a British actress, singer and songwriter, while Patel is a British-Indian actor. If you’ve heard of him, it’s probably for his breakout role in the 2008 Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire–a huge success after which, unfortunately, he faded somewhat from the industry’s radar.
Cynthia Erivo’s professional résumé includes roles in productions of The Color Purple and in The Sister Act. In the 2015 Broadway revival of The Color Purple, Cynthia Erivo starred as Celie, the impoverished and uneducated young victim of the numerous hardships faced by black residents of the south in the early twentieth century. This poignant and hard-hitting performance won Erivo the 2016 Tony for Best Actress in a Musical. Besides this role, Erivo also starred in a UK tour of the well-known musical Sister Act, based on the American musical-comedy movie of the same name. Erivo has received five awards thus far in her acting career, but because of her origins in the UK and the fact that many of her featured roles take place in remakes or revivals of other original films, her successes in the field are not always widely recognized, especially in America. Besides her career as an actress, Erivo is also a musical artist whose latest song was released in 2014. Most of her songs come from her role in The Color Purple, for which she received wide acclaim for her vocal talents. Erivo’s songs that aren’t from this role are sung with artist Oliver Tompsett on a famous album produced by songwriter Scott Alan. The deluxe version of this album, called “Cynthia Erivo and Oliver Tompsett Sing Scott Alan”, was released in 2016 and is Alan’s seventh album.
Dev Patel’s professional career, on the other hand, is an interesting case; he is both a well-established and recently-revived presence in the film industry. Patel is an English actor who has played roles in twelve movies and three television shows, most of them produced in the UK. His part on the HBO show The Newsroom earned him accreditation, but it was his starring role as Jamal Malik in the 2008 feature film Slumdog Millionaire for which he is best known. The movie won an Academy Award for Best Picture, a ringing endorsement of Patel’s success in his film debut. Following this role, however, Patel struggled to find similarly prominent acting jobs. It was not until his role in the 2016 Oscar-nominated film Lion that he again emerged at the forefront of the industry. This dramatic film is based on a biographical work by Saroo Brierley, and chronicles the true story of the Indian street boy’s quest to be reunited with his birth family in Calcutta. Patel’s other professional experience includes roles in a range of genres, but drama remains the most prevalent on his résumé. Cynthia Erivo and Dev Patel have each received about a handful of awards during their respective acting careers. Consider checking out their work – Erivo’s production roles have been filmed and are on YouTube, or you could watch the original movie versions of the plays in which she’s starred. Patel’s Lion, highly acclaimed six-time Oscar nominee in 2017 (including Best Picture), is also on Netflix now!