“My heart is so full.” That’s the mantra Danielle Brooks repeated as she received a career-defining call from Oprah Winfrey. On Feb. 3, it was announced that the actor would be portraying Sofia in the forthcoming “The Color Purple” movie musical produced by Winfrey, whose prior portrayal of Sofia in Steven Spielberg’s 1985 adaptation earned her an an Oscar nomination. An emotional video of Winfrey sharing the news with Brooks aired during a special installment of ABC’s “Soul of a Nation.”
“Blessings upon blessings,” Brooks wrote on Instagram following the news. This won’t be Brooks’s first encounter with the fierce character: the actor made her Broadway debut as Sofia in the 2015 stage revival of “The Color Purple.” Brooks then went on receive a Tony Award nomination for best featured actress in a musical. Winfrey told a weepy Brooks, “I’m so happy to pass whatever baton from 35, almost 40, years ago to you, and I know you’re gonna kill it.”
Rounding out the cast is Taraji P. Henson, Colman Domingo; Fantasia Taylor; Halle Bailey; Corey Hawkins; and H.E.R., in the singer’s first major acting role. Taylor also has prior experience with the text, as she portrayed Celie on Broadway in 2007. “Reimagining the beloved musical on to the big screen is a challenge,” Winfrey wrote on Instagram, “but we as producers feel prepared to take it head on with the team we’ve brought together.”
“The Color Purple” was born from the mind of Alice Walker, who published the novel in 1982. It won a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award the following year, though it is sadly still banned from some school libraries. In addition to Spielberg’s film adaptation, which received an Oscar nomination for best picture, “The Color Purple” was later translated into a musical by Scott Sanders. The stage production originally ran from 2005 to 2008 and was revived in 2015.
The upcoming adaption will be directed by Ghanaian filmmaker Blitz Bazawule, who codirected Beyoncé’s “Black Is King” visual album. “The Color Purple: The Musical” is currently scheduled to hit theaters on Dec. 20, 2023.