Freedom Is Not Free!
MONARCH MAGAZINE|Fall 2019: Style Issue
Freedom Is Not Free!
It requires sacrifice, fortitude, courage, and love

Monarch had the pleasure of sitting down with two of the stars of upcoming film HARRIET, Cynthia Erivo & Leslie Odom Jr., to discuss the responsibility and care that went into portraying the iconic figure, as well as their thoughts on the real-life HARRIET TUBMAN’s fight for freedom and justice!

MONARCH: How did you get involved with the film HARRIET?

CYNTHIA ERIVO: Debra Martin Chase and Daniela Taplin Lundberg came to see me in The Color Purple on Broadway (I didn’t know they were in the audience). I met with Debra the following day. She told me about the script and asked if I would consider doing the role.

LESLIE ODOM Jr: My friend Cynthia Erivo asked me to read the script. A short time later I sat down with Debra Martin-Chase. She also mentioned there was interest in me for the role of William. I’m so glad it was me that they chose.

MONARCH: These are major historic portrayals. Were you intimidated by the prospect of playing these characters?

CYNTHIA ERIVO: No. I was excited and honored and felt a responsibility to tell the story the best way possible.

LESLIE ODOM Jr: Of course. But the task before me obviously pales in comparison to the obstacles our real-life superheroes faced. All I had to do was be “brave” enough to open and my mouth and extol the hard-won victories of Ms. Tubman and Mr. Still.

MONARCH: How did the two of you prepare for your roles?

CYNTHIA ERIVO: Extensive research, physical training, and constant conversation with Kasi [director Kasi Lemmons].

LESLIE ODOM Jr: I read everything I could get my hands on before I was called to set. I continued to read even after we wrapped it. William was prolific in his writing.

MONARCH: How much did you know about Harriet Tubman going into the project?

CYNTHIA ERIVO: I knew as much as most people know—the broad strokes but not the details.

MONARCH: How much did you know about William Still before this project?


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Fall 2019: Style Issue