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Cynthia Erivo to receive Breakthrough Performance Award at PSIFF

Cynthia Erivo - John Russo

Actress Cynthia Erivo will receive the Breakthrough Performance Award at the Palm Springs International Film Festival's annual awards gala on January 2, 2020.

Festival Chairman Harold Matzner said, “Cynthia Erivo has been a sensation in her theatrical performances and now audiences are getting to experience her on the big screen." Matzner added, "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.”

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.

Matzner said of Erivo, “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.”

The event will be held at the Palm Springs Convention Center, hosted by former Entertainment Tonight personality, Mary Hart.

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)

The movie Harriet details Harriet Tubman's escape from slavery and transformation into one of America’s greatest heroes.

The film from Focus Features is directed by Kasi Lemmons.

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.

Erivo is a Tony®, Emmy® and Grammy® Award-winning actress who starred in The Color Purple. 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 work in film and on stage.

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