Oprah Winfrey brings her life-changing experience from “The Purple” to a new generation.
The TV mogul, who was nominated for an Academy Award for her role in Steven Spielberg’s 1985 adaptation of Alice Walker’s novel, announced Thursday that she has assembled for the big-screen musical remake. An all-star lineup.
The Warner Bros. film will be directed by Blitz Bazawule (“Black Is King,” “Kojo’s Funeral”), and stars Fantasia Taylor (Ceely), Coleman Domingo (Ceely’s abusive husband), Danielle Brooks (Sofia), Halle Bailey (Ceely’s sister Nettie), Corey Hawkins (Harper), musician She (Squeak) and Taraji P. Avery).
“It’s not your mom’s ‘purple,'” Winfrey said in “Vanity Fair,” describing a new take on Alice Walker’s letter-themed novel about Celie, a poor , the unloved black southern girl who was raped as a child in the early 1900s, brutal marriage and other harrowing experiences throughout the book’s decades-long run.
A musical version of The Purple was released on Broadway in 2005. It later won a Tony Award for Best Revival in 2015 and has been touring the world ever since. The show is produced by Winfrey and Broadway veteran Scott Sanders, who also worked on the big-screen adaptation with Spielberg and Quincy Jones, the original composer of the Oscar-nominated film. Walker also serves as the film’s executive producer.
The musical will begin shooting in Georgia next month and is scheduled to open in theaters on December 20, 2023.
“It’s been a vehicle for magic and purpose in my life,” Winfrey told the magazine. “I don’t know of anyone whose lives have not improved with it. Everything is from Alice Walker’s original words and is really rooted in love. Love this community. The love of these people. Love those characters. It’s just being Pass and pass and pass. I can’t wait to see the next evolution, which has nothing to do with what we’ve always done.”
Taylor (nee Barrino), who made her Broadway debut in 2007 as Celie, will return to the role originally played by Whoopi Goldberg in the 1985 film, while Brooks will return to her Broadway role with Winfrey in the original film roles played.
On Broadway, Celie was first played by Tony Award-winner Lachaz. Cynthia Erivo won the 2016 Tony Award (Celie) for her 2015 revival, while Brooks was nominated in the same category that year for her portrayal of Sophia – Leading Actress in a Musical.
Taylor welcomed the announcement on Thursday, with a throwback video showing her reaction to learning she was offered the role.
“As I sit down tonight to reflect on my life journey, I believe I now understand what redemption really feels like,” the “American Idol” winner wrote. “The last time I stepped into the role, the parallels I painted on stage with what I experienced in my own reality were too close to be comforting. Since then, I have learned that my Pain is just an introduction to the larger purpose of meaning and distribution. I hope that every little black girl who struggles to be heard and recognized also pledges to never give up at all costs.”
“Orange is the New Black” star Brooks also shared a clip of Winfrey revealing that she will play Sophia, who is wearing purple glasses and a turtleneck.
“Blessing upon blessing. First, thank God. Second, so much @oprah for trusting me to play this woman’s powerhouse again,” she wrote. “She put her foot in that role and helped change so many lives. I pray to do the same. The journey to get to this moment has been very humbling, but I won’t change it for the world! I can’t wait to meet The next generation shares Sophia!!”
Although Winfrey regrets not having a role in the musical, she is proud of Brooks and the new cast to take her place.
“There’s nothing more than I want, but I don’t think there is. I’ve had my day and that time has passed. I’ve passed the baton and I’m feeling really, really great about it,” she told “Vanity Fair”.
On Instagram, Winfrey weighed in on the project’s legacy and the importance of bringing it to a new generation.
“Every character in #TheColorPurple has become iconic through different iterations over the past 40 years – from Alice Walker novels to Steven Spielberg films to Scooby Sanders’ Broadway adaptation,” she wrote, sharing a video of her and Brooks.
“Reimagining a beloved musical to the big screen is a challenge, but as producers, we’re ready to go head-to-head with the team we’ve put together,” she continued. “From day one, we knew we had to find the right cast to do it [Blitz Bazawule’s] Director’s Vision and Marcus Gadley’s Fantastic Script – We Spotted Them in Knockout [Fantasia Taylor] (Cillie), charming [Henson] (Shug), charming [Corey Hawkins] (Harpo), multifaceted [H.E.R.] (squeak), master [Domingo] (Mr.), beautiful and talented [Bailey] (Young Nettie).But Sofia has my heart and I’m ready to pass the purple baton to the incredible [Brooks] Who will bring her version to a new generation. “
Oprah Winfrey stands backstage at the 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California on January 7, 2018.