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Fantasia Speaks About Life-Changing Overdose Experience; Role In “The Color Purple”

BY Abena Dzaka November 23, 2023 7:40 PM EDT
Photo Credit: NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 27: Singer Fantasia Barrino attends Primary Wave Entertainment's 12th Annual Pre-Grammy Party on January 27, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Primary Wave Entertainment

Fantasia Barrino has thrown some light on some parts of her life and career including a time she survived an overdose and her role in Warner Bros.’ upcoming musical remake, The Color Purple.

The actress and singer made these revelations when she spoke at Variety‘s Power of Women, presented by Lifetime.

The theme of the night was the “resilience of women against long odds and low expectations’’ and was held on November 16.

This year’s awards saw Variety and Lifetime toast four of the entertainment industry’s brightest stars at the annual Power of Women event.

Fantasia Barrino dedicated her Power of Women kudo to Celie, the woefully mistreated character she plays in the film, as well as her own daughter. Barrino didn’t hide her emotions after she was introduced with many superlatives by none other than Oprah Winfrey, who co-starred in the 1985 film adaptation of Alice Walker’s novel and is a producer on the remake.

“I’ve been through some things I haven’t been afraid to share,” Fantasia said in her speech at the event. “Sometimes we don’t want to share what we go through, but I knew that my tests were part of my testimony, and I knew that my testimony would help a lot of people.”

Fantasia also spoke about the upcoming musical film adaptation of “The Color Purple,” in which she will portray Celie.

“I want to thank Celie,” she said. “I didn’t want to play this role again, because I knew this role would bring up some certain things in my life that I thought I was over, but I think I just suppressed. So when they called me, I said, ‘I cannot do it. I’m married. I’m happy. No thanks.’ But I had to for every young lady who has been through some of the things that I’ve been through. Not even the young ladies; there are some ladies that are a lot older than me that say, ‘Thank you for sharing your story.’”

Fantasia concluded with a message of hope, dedicating her award to “every young lady that’s going to go through some things. But it does not matter what you go through, baby. We fall down, but we get back up. You Googled me. I fell, but I got back up!”

In introducing Fantasia, Oprah Winfrey said, “Several years ago, as a producer, I watched Fantasia embody the character of Celie on the Broadway stage, and I thought, well, what could top that? And this year, I saw what could top that. To watch Fantasia re-embody, re-imagine, and re-invent Celie for our film was to actually witness triumph in action.”

“The Color Purple” star opened up about her own fight to live again after her 2010 overdose in her Power of Women cover story, telling Variety how it was through the help of her nurse that she was able to come out on the other side with a new perspective.

While she recovered in the hospital, Fantasia was visited by a nurse, who threw several copies of magazines with her face on the cover into her lap. “‘You see that young lady,” the nurse told her. “She’s strong. She’s a blessing.” Then she gave her a command: “Don’t you come back in here anymore. You fight.”

“I left that hospital and said, ‘I’ll never do that again, because I have purpose,’” Fantasia recalled. “I’m going to speak into every young person’s life and tell them, ‘Don’t you dare give up.’”