Winfrey assumed the role of Sofia in the 1985 film and would earn an Academy Award nomination for her standout performance. The movie, directed by Steven Spielberg and based on the adaption of Alice Walker’s 1982 novel by the same name, tells the story of Celie (Whoopi Goldberg), who faces hardship, discrimination, and abuse throughout her life — from her father and later her husband, Albert “Mister” Johnson (Danny Glover), while living in Georgia. Johnson also sends away her sister, Nettie (Akosua Busia), which deeply affects Celie.
Celie receives a happy ending when she later reunites with her sister after nearly 30 years.
Winfrey’s character, Sofia, becomes the stepdaughter-in-law of Celie, per The New York Times.
Starring in “The Color Purple” was important to Winfrey. Despite the $35,000 offer for the role, she asserts that these are the most significant dollars she has ever earned.
“I can’t even begin to tell you what it means to me—a person who wanted nothing more in my life than to be in ‘The Color Purple.’ And God taught me to surrender—that was the big lesson for me. They were only offering $35,000 to be in this film, and it is the best $35,000 I ever earned. It changed everything and taught me so much. It is God moving through my life,” Winfrey told ESSENCE.
“The Color Purple” has secured its place as a classic in cinematic history. What’s more, the spirit of the film will be making its way to theaters on Dec. 25, 2023, thanks to Winfrey, Spielberg, Quincy Jones, and Scott Sanders, according to Oprah Daily. However, the adaptation will not replicate the 1985 film, but rather the Broadway musical, per ESSENCE.
The cast includes Fantasia Barrino (Celie), Danielle Brooks (Sofia), Taraji P. Henson (Shug), H.E.R. (Squeak), Colman Domingo (Mister), Halle Bailey (Young Nettie), Corey Hawkins (Harpo) and Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor (Mama).
“To have all of you beautiful Black women bearing witness to the story, as the story moves forward, means so much,” Winfrey expressed to ESSENCE. “I believe that what Fantasia has said is true: Everybody who comes to see our film is going to be touched. They will be moved. And they will be healed. So thank you for the blessing.”