Oprah Winfrey and Cast Present “The Color Purple” in First Public Screening
Oprah Winfrey, one of the power producers behind The Color Purple, joined stars Fantasia Barrino, Colman Domingo, Taraji P. Henson, Danielle Brooks, and more as they presented the film in its first public screening at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills on Thursday night.
Winfrey and The Color Purple cast were emotional as they spoke about the power of director Blitz Bazawule’s musical adaptation of the film and how much the movie has impacted their lives.
“For every one of us up here, it is a story of, ‘look at what God has done,’” said Winfrey during a panel after the screening, moderated by Variety’s Angelique Jackson. Winfrey was herself an Oscar nominee for her portrayal of Sophia in Steven Spielberg’s 1985 film adaptation of Alice Walker’s iconic novel. Winfrey said it was Walker’s book that helped her unlock an incredibly painful time in her own life.
“Until that time, I didn’t know there was language for what had happened to me,” she said. “I had been raped and had a child who later died, and I did not have any language to explain what that was. And that book was the first time there was a story about me.”
Starring in Spielberg’s adaptation “changed everything for me,” Winfrey said. Coming back to the material all these years later as a producer was a “full circle moment.”
The role of Sophia in the new film belongs to Danielle Brooks, who wept as she described what it felt like to take on the role and the space that Winfrey gave her to create her own Sophia. “She held my hand and let me fly,” Brooks said of Winfrey.
Both Fantasia Barrino, who came to her role as Celie in The Color Purple with plenty of experience—she won a Tony for playing her in the Broadway musical adaptation—and Taraji P. Henson, who plays Shug Avery, revealed that they needed some convincing to take part in the film. Barrino said that Bazawule helped change her mind and allowed her to see “what women go through and how we sometimes need to imagine ourselves in a different place before we get there.” For Henson, she said it felt like destiny. “The funny thing about life is when something is destined for you, you cannot run away from it. I tried,” Henson said. “This is iconic. This is something that is going to live on forever.”
The Color Purple arrives in theaters on Christmas Day.
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Featured image: Caption: (L-r) TARAJI P. HENSON as Shug Avery, FANTASIA BARRINO as Celie and DANIELLE BROOKS as Sophia in Warner Bros. Pictures’ bold new take on a classic, “THE COLOR PURPLE,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures