British actress Cynthia Erivo received her first two Oscar nominations on Monday morning for her performance as the iconic freedom fighter and abolitionist Harriet Tubman in Kasi Lemmons' "Harriet" and for co-writing that film's anthemic original song "Stand Up" (with Joshuah Brian Campbell).
In the wake of notable snubs for the likes of Jennifer Lopez ("Hustlers"), Jamie Foxx ("Just Mercy") and Lupita Nyong'o ("Us"), Erivo was the only person of color nominated for an acting Oscar this year.
Hours after the nominations announcement on Monday morning, Erivo got on the phone from Japan, where she'd just landed to discuss her nominations and the legacy of #OscarsSoWhite.
Q: First of all, congratulations! What were you doing when you got the news?
A: Thank you. I was however many feet and miles in the air on the way to Japan on a plane.
Q: Who gave you the news?
A: I found out that I had Wi-Fi on the plane, hooked up my phone to the Wi-Fi, and I think this was like an hour or so after it had been announced. And many people gave me the news because a bunch of tweets, messages, texts, voicemails and DMs started coming through. I can't remember which was the first text message I got, it just all happened.
Q: Who was the first person you responded to?
A: Who was the first person I responded to? I have no idea, I can't even remember. I think I probably messaged my mother first because I don't know that she realized it was happening. She's in London so it wasn't in the news until much later. I must've messaged my mother and my sister first and then I probably messaged my agent and my PR because we had to have conversations. I may be wrong because I can't even remember.
Q: Do you mind me asking what you're doing in Japan?