Renée Elise Goldsberry on the Emmys, ‘Hamilton’ Cast Reunion and Playing to LEGO Musical Crowd (VIDEO)
Renée Elise Goldsberry is building herself quite a 2021. First, the actress is nominated for an Outstanding Supporting Actress Emmy in the Limited Series or TV Movie category for her performance as Angelica Schuyler in Hamilton, Disney+’s filmed production of the Broadway smash. (She won a 2016 Tony for the performance.) And her Peacock gem Girls5Eva is also up for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series.
On top of that she has starred in “LEGO Store: The Musical.” This song-and-dance celebration of the toy company’s new flagship store on New York’s Fifth Avenue also serves as a salute to theater, creative minds and, of course, mini-figures. Watch it below.
We recently chatted with the powerhouse about hitting the bricks to bring Broadway back to life, what her kids think of mom’s LEGO connections and why she’s not missing her shot to spend time with her “Hamilton” family on Emmy weekend.
OK, so I love this “LEGO Store: The Musical” bit. How did this happen?
Renée Elise Goldsberry: It just dropped into my lap out of the sky. I just got a call one day asking what I thought about LEGOs and I said that I love them. Then they asked me, “Do you want to be in a Lego musical?” I had never put the two of those together in my brain before, but it just sounded like chocolate and peanut butter.
Right?! Also, given that it’s tied to the grand opening the new LEGO store in New York and you are such a huge part of the theater world that is just starting to reopen, I feel like it’s a really perfect match.
Oh, the synergy is perfect. And the idea, I mean, it’s just the way everybody has been rallying and coming together and making these partnerships because we need each other so desperately. It’s been really good. The scope of this project was huge and I was grateful for that because it meant a lot of us would be employed and dancing in the streets. [Laughs]
How long did it take to film and record it?
You know what’s wonderful about the theater is that we show up and everything looks spontaneous and live, but it’s because of so much work backstage or behind the scenes. So there was a lot of work. There was a lot of work on the music. There was a lot of really meticulous work on arranging it. There was wonderful choreography and I think a very specific casting process because it wasn’t just like a random group of people. I mean, I think they really handpicked a wonderfully diverse group of talented musical performers.
And yeah, we had to learn a big number. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. On top of learning the music and singing the music, we had a real dance break. We had a real big dance break in this number. I feel like I worked on it for a couple of weeks and they were probably working on it much longer than that.
But you theater folks know how to pick stuff up so quickly.
Yeah. Even after such a long time, even me personally, I hadn’t really done a dance number in quite some time, and I didn’t know how much I needed it. And you know what’s funny? I’m saying that and just realized that we had the same choreographer as Girls5eva [James Alsop]. That, for me, was like another drop of a blessing out of the sky. Because I just knew how fun it was going to be.
Nice. And how much “Cool Mom” cred did you get working with LEGO?
That’s hilarious. [Laughs] I definitely got the cred for working with them, but my kids had such FOMO because they weren’t with me when I was shooting it. It’s a little [weird] to find myself at a stage of my life when I get to do things that my kids would love and they’re just shaking their heads like they cannot believe it. And then there’s this beautiful little girl that stars in the LEGO musical who’s the exact same age as my daughter, who sings and dances as well. So when I met that cute little girl, I was like “Oh, I’m glad you’re good!” Because if she weren’t good, my daughter would’ve killed me for not getting this part. [Laughs]
Is there a specific LEGO set that they have embraced or that they’re asking you for?
My kids, they love the LEGO movies and so they love to collect the characters from them. We love imaginary play and we love building in this house, so they’ve just done a really good job of spending my money. [Laughs]
And now the Emmys…”Hamilton” is nominated for a bunch. You’re nominated. Girls5Eva‘s creator Meredith Scardino is nominated. It’s so cool! Is there going to be a massive “Hamilton” cast reunion before the actual awards?
Your lips to God’s ears. Honestly, I literally just told my niece on the phone, “Oh my God, it has never crossed my mind that I could actually win this thing.” Because I was so focused on feeling like I had already won when I saw my name written down…and when I saw Phillipa Soo’s name written down and Anthony Ramos‘ name and Leslie Odom Jr.‘s name and Lin-Manuel Miranda‘s name and Daveed Diggs‘ name and Jonathan Groff‘s name. When I just saw that outpouring of love [it was just amazing]. I kind of thought people had forgotten about last summer because there was so much you’d want to forget.
When the community of Emmy voters gave us that huge present of inviting us to this party, literally I could cry every time I think about it. We promoted that film on Disney+ from our guest rooms and the little Zoom corners in our houses and didn’t get to do the one thing we love to do, which is come back together. So we haven’t seen each other at all.
Yeah, we haven’t. We have not seen each other at all. I called Tommy Kail, our director, and said to him, “You know what I want more than anything in this world? For all of us to be together.” And more than just kind of randomly see each other in our fancy clothes. I want to take this opportunity — we’ll do it in masks now, I guess, because of the Delta variant — but I feel like what the Emmy community gave us by giving us these nominations is a reason to stop our really busy lives and come together and just celebrate what was really beautiful about them putting Hamilton on television in the summer of 2020. To celebrate that wonderful choice, that wonderful gift to all of us and just look each other in the face.
OK, more than ever, I feel like there needs to be like a cast dinner at somebody’s home or a restaurant’s private backroom.
Exactly. I’m going to do this…literally, when we get off the phone. Especially because you just affirmed this — I’m going to put a group text together and invite myself over to either Leslie Odom Jr.’s house or Daveed Diggs’ house. One of the people that live in L.A. I’m gonna be like “Guess who’s having a party?” [Laughs]
Perfect. Well, listen, congratulations. Good luck at the Emmys. I have my fingers crossed for you and for Meredith, and I hope you have a wonderful reunion with your Hamilton friends.
Oh, you’re so sweet. And let me tell you, we’re going to have that party and I’m toasting you for asking me about a party…it just confirmed all that I want in the world. I’m going to raise a glass.
I love this! I feel so satisfied!