“This ain’t your mama’s Color Purple,” Oprah Winfrey promised Vanity Fair for the unveiling of the new cast of the musical’s latest adaptation.
The upcoming film — based on the Tony-winning Broadway musical, which was based on the 1985 Steven Spielberg movie that was Oprah’s first major acting role — will be directed by Blitz Bazawule, who also helmed Beyoncé's Black Is King.
It all originates from the source material of Alice Walker’s classic 1982 novel about Black women living in the rural South in the early part of the 20th century, as they endure unspeakable hardship and persevere despite seemingly unending cruelty.
In the newest incarnation of The Color Purple, which Winfrey will produce (along with Broadway producer Scott Sanders), R&B singer Fantasia Taylor will play the lead role of Celie — the same role she played on Broadway in 2007, and which was originally made famous by Whoopi Goldberg in the 1985 movie. Fantasia first came to fame after winning “American Idol” in 2004.
Taraji P. Henson will play Shug Avery, the singer Celie falls for, and Colman Domingo (Euphoria, ZOLA), will play Celie’s abusive husband. H.E.R. will play Squeak, the wife of Mister’s son, and Danielle Brooks will play Sofia, originally portrayed by Winfrey.
Brooks, who is both an actress and a singer, is best known for her role as Tasha “Taystee” Jefferson on Netflix’s Orange Is The New Black. She shared a video of the moment she got the call from Oprah that she would be taking on her iconic role.
“It has been a vehicle for magic and purpose in my life,” Winfrey told Vanity Fair of the film. “I don’t know anybody who’s ever been associated with it whose life didn’t get enhanced. Everything comes from the original words of Alice Walker, which were grounded in love, really. Love of this community. Love of these people. Love of those characters. And that just gets passed on and passed on and passed on. I can’t wait to see this next evolvement, which is not attached to having done it the way we’ve always done it.”
Sanders said that with Bazawule behind the camera, the film will have more elements of magical realism than its gritty original.
“Incorporating magical realism in this version of the story gives the audience a chance to go inside of Celie’s imagination,” Sanders said. “In the early stages of Celie’s story, she is meek and small and in many ways passive. So we don’t really understand what’s going on inside that head of hers. We know there’s a lot going on, but we don’t know necessarily what it is.”
The Color Purple begins filming in Georgia next month, and a release date is yet to be announced. Stay tuned for more details.