How did Cynthia Addai-Robinson get her start?
One might say that a high school play in the Washington, D.C., suburbs gave a teenage Cynthia Addai- Robinson a taste of the hard knock life. “I became known as the girl who played Annie for the rest of high school,” she recalls. “I realized, Oh, people respond to this, and they think I might be good at it, so maybe I’ll keep going.” She went on to study drama at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, which helped her break out of her shell. “I was a shy kid, but I think being on stage gave me permission to be a little bit bolder, in a safe space.”
Which projects has she worked on?
Over the last decade, Addai-Robinson has honed that boldness in action-packed TV shows such as the Starz gladiator drama Spartacus, DC Comics’ Arrow, and the USA Network thriller Shooter. “I don’t think of myself as a tough person—I’m a lover, not a fighter,” she says, despite her plethora of hard-bitten parts. “But it’s interesting when you start getting a sense of how people perceive you or what your energy is, and I’ve learned a lot about myself every time I play one of these roles.” She has also scored a recurring place in the cast of NBC’s Chicago Med, as well as a big part in a fantastical new project.
What is her role on The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power?
This month, Addai-Robinson stars in Prime Video’s highly anticipated prequel series The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. While some of her castmates tackled established characters (such as the Elf royals Galadriel and Elrond), Addai-Robinson got the chance to “put [her] stamp on” Tar-Míriel, the queen of the Atlatis-like Númenor. “Even though she exists in the lore, our job is to make her fully realized,” she says. The setting, too, is making its screen debut: “We get to make it three-dimensional, breathe life into it. I think the audience is really going to be blown away by the storyline of Númenor in general.”
Later this year, Addai-Robinson trades Middle-earth for London (where she was born, to an American father and Ghanaian mother, before moving to the U.S. at age 4) in the Prime Video comedy The People We Hate at the Wedding. The actress relished the opportunity to play for laughs in the movie, which sees her character’s estranged siblings (Ben Platt, Kristen Bell) attend her lavish nuptials. “It’s something I haven’t really gotten a chance to portray, because I’ve played a lot of these really serious, strong characters,” she says. “This is the total 180 from that. It’s nice to get to show something different.”