Renée Elise Goldsberry Has Things To Say, And Not Just About “Hamilton” – About Strength, Humility And What We Have In Common – The Virginian-Pilot

Norfolk – Known by many names: the original Angelica Schuyler of the Broadway cultural phenomenon “Hamilton”. Mimi in the closing cast of “Rent”. Hella in the 2017 HBO drama about how a Virginia woman’s cancerous cells led to dozens of medical advances in “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.”

But Renee Elise Goldsbury is, after all, a storyteller.

Whether she’s playing an intelligent woman who commands attention and respect (Angelica in “Hamilton”), a feisty lawyer (Geneva Payne in “The Good Wife”) or making the rafters tremble as her volcanic voice erupts when she sings.

Winner Tony shares a new chapter in her career when she performs on May 6 at Chrysler Hall in Norfolk as part of the Virginia Arts Festival’s 25th anniversary season. In the performance limited to just one night, she’ll sing Broadway songs from her shows, as well as soul classics and pop standards.

“Whether I’m doing a concert of my own or a concert of someone else’s songs, the common theme is storytelling,” Goldsbury said during a phone interview from her Connecticut home. “The common theme of storytelling and presenting is creating that family, telling stories that remind people of what we have in common.”

In many ways, the evolution of Goldsberry’s career seems to be one of her biggest stories: At 51, and with more than two decades in television, film, and theater, she appears to be just getting started. Looking for roles that exude strength and perseverance.

She stars in the Peacock comedy series “Girls5eva”, playing the hilarious narcissistic singer Wiki. (Girls5eva is a ’90s girl group trying to make a comeback while playing cellulite, bills, and family responsibilities.) She’s also in Marvel and Disney’s “She-Hulk,” which comes out this year.

Goldsberry celebrates playing strong characters who can be an example not only to middle-aged women but also to young girls. Even with Wickie so self-centered, Goldsberry wants people to see a woman who is ambitious and refuses to give up on herself.

“Before anyone cared what I was thinking, I felt that I wanted girls, especially women of color, to not feel weak, marginalized, or unprotected. I think we are strong and weak,” she said. “As a black girl, I knew the messages were not inspiring. . I don’t want to lie to anyone that he’s not the focus of a story.”

Goldsberry was born in California in 1971 and raised in Houston and Detroit. She also grew up in a family that loves to sing around the house and appreciates a good show – but most have turned to math and science (her father is a physicist and chemist; her mother, an industrial psychologist). She covered her head first in the performance.

She was only seven years old when her cousin told her she could rich – Not just singing – and I made her be her own little Aretha and do a good song on the radio.

Her parents put her in a theater school, and she became addicted to theater when she was eight with her first production: singing in “Guys and Dolls.”

She graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a degree in acting, then a master’s in jazz vocal performance from the University of Southern California. She quickly started getting acting roles, in “Ally McBeal” and the TV series “One Life to Live” (for which she received two Daytime Emmy nods).

Her Broadway credits began as well, including Nala in “The Lion King” in 1997; The role of Nettie originated in “The Color Purple” in 2005; She played Kate in the 2011 movie “Good People,” opposite Academy Award winner Frances McDormand.

She has said in interviews that also her training in Shakespeare in the Park for public theater, and the lyrical gymnastics that it takes, is what set her up for a quick, witty rap for her most popular role in “Hamilton”.

Even with all of her successes—her career, husband, two kids—Goldsbury said she takes nothing for granted.

“If anything, we’ve learned that we know less than we thought,” she said of the past two years. We still realize that we know less. It’s true for everyone and I’m no different.”

She paused and remembered a tip a friend once gave her.

Tell her that when “you’re ready to paddle, you can panic about all the balls coming towards you and worry, or pick a good one and focus on hitting it out of the park.”

She has, and that’s the moral of her story.

Dennis M. Watson, 757-446-2504, Available here. denise.watson@pilotonline.com

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