‘Harriet’ Star Cynthia Erivo on the Responsibility of Playing Harriet Tubman: ‘It’s Not One I Take Lightly’ (Exclusive Video)

Toronto 2019: “I was afraid of it, and so I decided it would be a wonderful thing to take on,” director Kasi Lemmons added

Cynthia Erivo knew that playing Harriet Tubman in Kasi Lemmons’ biographical film “Harriet” would be no easy task, and it’s a responsibility she didn’t “take lightly.”

“I’m hugely honored to be able to take part in the telling of her story,” Erivo told TheWrap’s Steve Pond at the Toronto International Film Festival. “Really and truly, she’s the one who did the work. I just get the chance to be there to let people see it.”

Movies about the abolitionist and political activist have long been in development, but Lemmons felt the story should be told by a woman — and that it should be told by her.

“At a certain point, I felt my heart beat harder in talking about it with the producers,” she explained. “I thought, this is scary, but I think I’m at a point in my life, if I don’t do scary things, what’s the point? I was afraid of it, and so I decided it would be a wonderful thing to take on. And mostly, it was Harriet — her story wanted to be told, I wanted to tell it, I felt strongly about a woman telling it and I thought, maybe that woman is me.”

Erivo explained that a lot of research went into her accurately portraying the historical figure, including “physical work and mental preparation.”

“Harriet” debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this month and will hit theaters on November 1.

Watch the video above.

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