The Stockwell-born, Nyc-based singer and actress talks epic meal prep and training as hard as a stuntwoman
I’m in the gym (Dogpound in Lower Manhattan) five or six times a week. I hate sprints, but they do work. So I’ll blast Janelle Monáe’s Dirtycomputer album and begin my 30-minute running session. I’ll do a five-minute warm-up, then 60 seconds on, 30 seconds off, 10 times, before running out the rest of the half hour. Then I’ll keep up the intensity with a skipping rope before hitting the mat. My favourite new move is the divebomber press-up – 10 of those and I’m burning.
Badtimesatthe Elroyale is my first lead role – and it’s full on. Everything you see in the movie is me. The person running through the rain in her bare feet? That’s me. All the singing is done live on set and in the fight scene there’s no stunt double. I got very excited when one of the badass stuntwomen on set said, ‘This is pretty cool.’ Stuntwomen are no-bullshit, so I knew she wasn’t just saying it.
I follow a vegan/ vegetarian diet – less because of the ethics and more because over the years I’ve learnt to listen to my body and that’s what it needs. I work out fasted in the morning, followed by something like chia pudding with nuts and coconut yoghurt. Then I’ll just make do with sparkling water until lunch, where I’ll eat a mash made from easily digestible vegetables, like butternut squash, cauliflower and broccoli, topped with vegan meatballs. My favourite dinner is a veg-packed Vietnamese pho.
Eating healthily on set is hard, mainly because of the snack table full of sweets, biscuits, crisps – not the best for sustaining my energy levels over hours of filming. So now, before shooting starts, I’ll go out and shop for a month so I know that I have everything I need in my house. I’ll box up meals and snacks in Tupperware and then I’m all set. I’ll only have those gummy bears if I really want them.
Felicia Benton (@thisthatbeauty) has helped me get my skin in balance. Over a Facetime consultation, she told me to stop over-washing my face and use an oil cleanser. I thought it would make my skin oilier, but she explained that my face seemed greasy in the afternoons because it wasn’t hydrated enough. She introduced me to SK-II Facial Treatment Essence (£74, Net-a-porter), which is my ultimate hydrator. I’m finally in control of my skin.
When I was first starting out, the only foundation I could find to match my skin tone was by MAC, but it was a bit too heavy for my skin. Now I go for Nars Sheer Glow Foundation (£33, John Lewis), which is really lovely. And Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty collection has some wonderful highlighters that work with the tone of my skin. I love getting dressed up – and now finding the right make-up is actually fun.
Morning meditation is essential when everything feels super busy and I can’t seem to centre myself. I don’t use an app, and I don’t need to be in a certain space to do it. For me, meditation means taking the time not to speak, to just go into myself and focus on where I am right now. I can do it in the shower or when I’m in a cab on the way to work. Even when I’m running.
In 2016, I ran the New York City Half Marathon in the morning, before doing a matinée and evening performance of Thecolorpurple [the musical based on the Alice Walker novel, for which Erivo won a Tony award]. At the time, it just made sense. I knew that if I finished close to one hour and 47 minutes, I’d be done by 9am – plenty of time, I figured, to rest and get ready before my 11am call time. By the end of the second show, I felt exhausted but great – I’d got through it! My knees on the other hand...
Look out for Cynthia in autumn releases Bad Times At The El Royale (out 12 October) and Widows (out 9 November)
Age: 31 Job: Actress and singer-songwriter Fitness MO: Running sprints Wind-down secret: Morning meditation STATS