Cynthia Erivo’s journey to EGOT goes back to her performance as Celie in the most recent Broadway revival of “The Color Purple.” After winning the Tony for Best Actress (Musical) in 2016, she went on to take home the Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album as a principal soloist on the cast recording and an Emmy in the now retired category of Best On-Camera Musical Performance in a Daytime Program for when the cast performed on “The Today Show.” This year, she received two Oscar nominations for Kasi Lemmons’ biographical film, “Harriet” in two different categories: Best Actress and Best Song for co-writing “Stand Up” with Joshuah Brian Campbell. While Erivo’s likely not going to take down the current Best Actress frontrunner, Renee Zellweger (“Judy”), could her narrative of being a double nominee help complete her EGOT in Best Song?
Based on the thrilling and inspirational life of an iconic American freedom fighter, “Harriet” tells the extraordinary true story of Harriet Tubman (Erivo)’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.
If Erivo does win an Oscar this year, she’ll not only end up becoming the youngest person to have achieved EGOT status at only 33 years old, but also the fastest to have ever accomplished that as it would be within almost four years. Both of those records are currently held by Robert Lopez, who completed his EGOT at the age of 39 when he and his wife, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, won the Oscar for Best Song for writing “Let It Go” from “Frozen” (2013). That was almost 10 years after his journey began when he and Jeff Marx both won the Tony Award for Best Original Score in 2004 for “Avenue Q.” Ironically, the Lopezes are both back in contention this year for writing “Into the Unknown” from “Frozen II.”
Speaking of which, three of the tunes that are among this year’s Oscar nominees for Best Song (“I’m Gonna Love Me Again” from “Rocketman”, “I’m Standing with You” from “Breakthrough,” and “Into the Unknown” from “Frozen II”) are the sole representations for their films. Since the number of Best Picture nominees expanded in 2009, the award for Best Song only went to a lone Oscar nominated film twice. The first time was “Man or Muppet” from “The Muppets” in 2011 and the second (as well as most recent) was “Writing’s on the Wall” from “Spectre” in 2015. Though in both of those years, the winners were up against tunes that were also there as the lone representation for their films. With that particular stat in mind, it may not be good news for each of the three aforementioned songs.
The other two in contention (“I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away” from “Toy Story 4” and “Stand Up” from “Harriet”) are from films that have an additional nomination elsewhere. The former movie is up for Best Animated Feature film, plus songwriter Randy Newman is already a two-time winner for writing “If I Didn’t Have You” from “Monsters Inc.” (2001) and “We Belong Together” from “Toy Story 3” (2010). He was also previously nominated for writing songs for the first two installments of the “Toy Story” franchise, “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” from “Toy Story” (1995) and “When She Loved Me” from “Toy Story 2” (1999). Not to mention that his additional nomination in Best Original Score for “Marriage Story” could give him a leg up in this category.
That being said, “Stand Up” has the advantage of being an anthem played at the beginning of the end credits of “Harriet” just like a previous Best Song winner, “Glory” from “Selma” (2014). Similar to how “Harriet” is the very first biographical film about Harriet Tubman, “Selma” was the very first biographical film about another very important African American historical figure, Martin Luther King Jr. Not to mention that this is now the third year in a row where a performer received two Oscar nominations – one for acting and the other for songwriting – following Mary J. Blige for “Mudbound” (2017) and Lady Gaga for “A Star is Born” (2018).
So can Cynthia Erivo be able overcome competition from heavyweights like Elton John & Bernie Taupin (“Rocketman”), the Lopezes, Newman and Diane Warren (“Breakthrough”) to become the 16th person in history to achieve EGOT status?
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