The untold truth of Renee Elise Goldsberry

Buzz surrounding the Tony Award-winning sensation Hamilton peaked again when news broke that the movie version would premiere on Disney Plus on July 3, 2020. Of course, this development has been a dream come true for fans of the Broadway musical, which was created by the multi-talented playwright, Lin-Manuel Miranda. The musical tells the story of one of America’s Founding Fathers, Alexander Hamilton, with a hip hop twist and diverse cast.

Although the original cast has moved on since the show debuted in 2015, the stars continue to be beloved fixtures. One of the original cast members is actor Renée Elise Goldsberry, who starred as Angelica, making up the Schuyler sisters with Eliza (Phillipa Soo) and Peggy (Jasmine Cephas Jones). Angelica is the eldest, who first has eyes for Hamilton but backs away when she realizes he has feelings for Eliza. Goldsberry stood out with her performance of “Satisfied,” a song Angelica performs at Hamilton and Eliza’s wedding. Goldsberry won a Tony for “Best Featured Actress in a Musical” and a Drama Desk Award for “Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical” for the role.

While her Hamilton role is arguably Goldsberry’s best-known work, the actress has enjoyed a steady and successful career on-stage and on-screen. 

Renée Elise Goldsberry was once a soap opera diva

Before Renée Elise Goldsberry was trading rhymes on stage as Angelica Schuyler, she was sharing the set with daytime giants. Goldsberry starred as Evangeline Williamson on ABC’s One Life to Live, portraying the attorney from 2003 to 2007. She earned two Daytime Emmy and NAACP Image Award nominations for the role.

In an interview with Deadline’s New Hollywood Podcast in December 2019, Goldsberry praised the work of daytime actors.

“I learned my acting chops on that show, because we have so much work. I just think the best actors in the world are on daytime television,” she said during the appearance. “We take three months to film an hour and a half movie, but [soap actors]… shoot six hours of television a week. They’re just really talented. The stories are so broad, and they always have to continue to defend their character and some kind of really crazy situations.”

Although soaps are no longer in her future, Goldsberry cherished her role and the fans.

“I love [soaps], I love the fans of soap operas, I love the writers and the producers, I love everything about soap operas,” she said. “I have some really, really good friends who are still in that medium, killing the game.”

Renée Elise Goldsberry dreamt of fame

Renée Elise Goldsberry caught the acting bug when she was 8 years old, according to NBC News. The Mountain View, Calif., native was raised in Texas and Michigan and spent those early years dreaming about the theater.

“I always often say when I was a kid, I wasn’t just playing with baby dolls. I was standing in the mirror with [a] brush in my hand as a microphone singing songs. So often as a child, I wanted to do that, too,” she told NBC News.

Goldsberry would go on to earn a bachelor’s degree at Carnegie Mellon University in theater and a master’s degree at the University of Southern California in vocal jazz performance.

After graduating college, Goldsberry made her Broadway debut as Nala in the Disney musical The Lion King in 2002. She then starred as Nettie in the Broadway stage musical, The Color Purple, in 2005. She also performed as a singer in a recurring on Ally McBeal and appeared on The Good Wife.

Renée Elise Goldsberry won't slow down anytime soon

Renée Elise Goldsberry made her last Hamilton appearance Sept. 3, 2016. By then, original cast members Lin-Manuel Miranda, Leslie Odom Jr., Daveed Diggs, and fellow Schuyler sister, Phillipa Soo, had exited the musical. Goldsberry then joined the cast of the Netflix series, Altered Carbon. The science-fiction drama debuted on the streaming service in 2018 and is in its second season as of this writing. Goldsberry stars as Quellcrist Falconer, a rebel who leads the resistance in a 25th-century world. Her other television parts have included guest spots on CBS’ Evil and NBC’s Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist.

Another impressive credit? HBO cast Goldsberry in the 2017 television adaptation of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks with Oprah Winfrey. Goldsberry portrayed Lacks, a Black woman whose cancerous cells were taken without her informed consent in 1951, according to Cancer Today. Lacks’ cells — called HeLa cells — led to many medical breakthroughs, the outlet noted.

Outside of television, Goldsberry landed supporting roles in two 2019 films. She starred in the family comedy, The House with a Clock in its Walls, with Jack Black and Cate Blanchett, and the independent drama, Waves, with Sterling K. Brown, Kelvin Harrison Jr., and Lucas Hedges.

Goldsberry, who is married to attorney Alexis Johnson and has two children, credits her success on ambition and an incredible support system. “I’ve always wanted a family. I’ve always wanted children. I’ve always wanted to be a superstar,” she told NBC News.

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