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Cynthia Erivo opens up about what Pride means to her, and mental health hacks

It's Cynthia Erivo's world, we're all just living in it. And we're OK with that.

Her turn as Elphaba in the much-anticipated Wicked movie is just around the corner – out in cinemas in November, with Cynthia starring opposite Ariana Grande as Glinda – and the awards season hype has already begun.

After memorably taking home GLAMOUR's Gamechanging Performer Award at the 2022 Women of the Year awards, the star could very soon secure EGOT status – receiving an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony award – which she is a mere Oscar away from after winning three of the esteemed awards for her turn in the Broadway rendition of The Color Purple. Is this her year?

She breezes into GLAMOUR HQ for her Beauty of Pride Beauty Memo interview with no entourage, looking and smelling like a mesmerising dream. We later discover that Cynthia has arrived straight from a morning spent with no less than King Charles and Queen Camilla at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA). As the academy's Vice President (and alumni), the star had been rubbing shoulders with royalty as part of her work supporting education in the arts, which she has spoken passionately about.

As part of our interview series, Cynthia opened up about how beauty and makeup informed and helped shape her journey as a LGBTQIA+ woman in the entertainment industry, and who she is today – she even divulged her secret as to how she smells so incredible.

Why is it important to you to use your platform as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community?

I think it's important for me because I know that there are many who simply can't use their voices for themselves. So I think it's important to see someone who is out and proud and living and succeeding and doing things that are good for them so that they can also do things that they want to do for themselves as well.

Why do you think makeup is so important to so many members of the community?

I think it allows for people to dress and to become whoever they want it to be. I think makeup is part of an entire outfit. Some want to wear it, some don't. Sometimes in order to feel confident, we use it. If we can't find confidence in ourselves, sometimes we use makeup to help. And if that's where you are, then at least there's something that you can use to help encourage the person you are on the inside to come out.

What's the most radical thing that you have ever done in the name of beauty?

I don't know that I've done anything particularly radical, and maybe I've done things that are radical but not necessarily in the name of beauty. But when I cut my hair off, that was because I wanted people to just see my face, all of it. I didn't want anything to hide behind. I wanted people to see all of me.

I think there's something about being able to see all of my skin that makes me feel really empowered. So I guess that's something radical in the name of beauty, but I think it's more about me showing up as myself.

Your beauty cabinet catches fire, what are the three products that you save?

What's hard to find? I'd probably save the serum by Augustinus Bader because that stuff is very expensive. Maybe there's a couple of masks that are hard to get. So there's an American brand mask that you have to mix. It's like a powder that turns into a jelly. I'd probably save that because everything else is replaceable.

When you were growing up, what was your relationship with your hair and makeup like?

When I was growing up, I had a big old Afro. It was big and long and I used to love it. Sometimes I would put it in a headscarf, plait it, twist it, all of those things and it would grow very, very healthy and there was a lot to do and I loved it. And makeup… I never really wore very often. I still don't necessarily wear it very often. I wear it when I want to.

I loved the way my mom used to use makeup. I always watched her. Eyeliner, powder and red lipstick, that was what my mum used to always wear. It was a particular kind of lipstick, a wine sort of burgundy [colour] that she would always use, which I have at this point. And I love it because it reminds me of her.

I loved how it made her feel. I loved watching her get ready in the morning. So I guess the relationship was really positive. I knew that you could use it to dress up but not, or dress down. And I would do as much as I could to my hair whenever I wanted to.

What's the one rule that you live by when you're taking care of your mental health?

The one rule that I live by when I'm taking care of my mental health – sometimes silence is key. It's okay to be by yourself, and I think some of us get a little bit afraid of being on our own. But I think for me, those moments where I can be on my own, be by myself, allow me to take a breath and sit with myself for a second and, not necessarily withdraw from the world, but just take a step away for a second… I take those moments whenever I can because they aren't often.

Tell us about your biggest beauty disaster, if you've ever had one.

I was getting my makeup done and the makeup artist used makeup that was too light for my skin and I didn't see it until I saw it, in which case I had to run and fix it because that is not great ever.

What's your fragrance personality? And can I just say, you smell amazing today.

My fragrance personality is eclectic. I never use just one. I always combine fragrances and it's sort of a balance of deep and light and floral, always a mix.

What's your best clap back against current beauty standards?

I mean, everyone is an individual – so sod them. I've never followed trends, I don't believe in them because each person is very different and everyone needs something different, and each person has an individual beauty. If we all try to look the same, just how very boring. How very, very dull. I just want to fall asleep when I hear it.

Just look like yourself. Do what's good for you and look like you. I think that that is the thing that is starting to go missing. And I want to encourage people to enhance their own beauty and not make their beauty look like someone else's. You were made the way you were made because you were meant to be made that way.

What's the best beauty hack you've ever learned, and from whom?

The best beauty hacks I've ever learned are probably from my aesthetician and any sensible person, which is one, drink your water, which I'm not always that good at. And two, double cleanse. I double cleanse. And it's great because the first layer of cleansing doesn't clean completely, the second layer does.

I encourage all of you who go to sleep in your makeup to please take off your makeup before you go to sleep. Please, please. It's so good for you. Take it off. Let the skin breathe – put it on again in the morning.

Who's your Pride icon?

An artist from the 1970s called Sylvester. He made a song called You Make Me Feel. Sylvester just didn't get the shine and the love that they were meant to get. That song is iconic.

How has beauty and makeup helped your personal identity?

I think beauty and makeup gives you time to just be with yourself and take care of yourself, whether it's in the morning with your cleansing – I like to give myself facials. It can take anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes, if I don't have anywhere to go I'm taking ages.

I guess if we're talking about all over beauty, my nails are something that I take great care of and take great pride in, and I love them because not only do they make me happy and I think they're my calling card at this point, but [because of] the time I get to spend with the wonderful woman who does my name, her name is Rose Heckle. She comes up with all these ideas.

I can't take credit for how beautiful they look because she's the one that creates them. The wonderful thing about beauty is that sometimes you can allow other people to create. You can become a canvas for someone else and you can allow someone's creativity to grow. And that's one of the things that I love about beauty and makeup.

What does Pride mean to you?

To me, Pride means the audacity to exist fully… to be proud of all of the facets of who you are and to share that with the world.

What would be a message to your younger self about your journey as a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community?

My message to my younger self would be... That feeling that you have right now, if you're fifteen, is real. You're not crazy. And also you're really fabulous, so just keep going. It's going to be a good, good time. You're going to be fine. And probably don't change anything right now, just keep going. You'll get there.

The original article can be found on Glamour UK.

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