Fantasia Barrino and Danielle Brooks were announced as the leads of “The Color Purple” movie musical Thursday during the ABC News special “Soul of a Nation Presents: Screen Queens Rising.”
“American Idol” Season 3 winner Fantasia will play Celie and “Orange Is the New Black” alum Danielle Brooks will play Sofia.
In 2021, Brooks starred as trailblazing gospel singer and civil rights activist Mahalia Jackson in Lifetime’s Emmy-nominated “Robin Roberts Presents: Mahalia.”
Fantasia played the role of Celie from 2007 to 2008 during the original Broadway run of “The Color Purple.” Brooks earned a Tony nod for playing Sofia in the Broadway revival, which ran from 2015 to 2017.
Oprah Winfrey, who portrayed Sofia in Steven Spielberg’s 1985 film and is producing the new Warner Bros. adaptation, called Brooks during Thursday’s interview to pass the torch. “I am here representing all things purple to tell you that you are our Sofia. I’m so happy to pass whatever baton from 35 — almost 40 — years ago to you. And I know you’re gonna kill it,’” she told an overwhelmed Brooks during the Zoom call.
“My heart is so full,” a tearful Brooks replied. “I’m going to make you so proud.”‘
“You already have,” Winfrey responded. “I wanted to be the one to tell you because you know I have such love for her, this character, everything she represents and everything she brought to my life. And what I’m hoping is that she does the same thing for you.”
Spielberg’s “The Color Purple” earned 11 nominations at the Academy Awards, including best picture, best supporting actress for Winfrey and best actress for Whoopi Goldberg as Celie. The film, which also starred Margaret Avery and Danny Glover, came away empty-handed on Oscar night, but the Broadway musical and its revival fared much better at the Tonys, earning a combined three awards and a total of 15 nominations.
The previously announced cast for the new version includes Taraji P. Henson and singers H.E.R. and Halle Bailey. The film, which will be directed by Blitz Bazawule (“Black is King”), begins production this spring and is slated for release in 2023.