Oprah Winfrey has indicated that in addition to Fantasia Barrino, Taraji P. Henson, and Danielle Brooks, who starred in The Color Purple, there was pressure to get Beyoncé and Rihanna to guarantee a hit.
“To be completely honest about it, if you were doing this film for $30 or $40 million, the interest in the cast would be very different. After the movie reached a budget of $90 to $100 million, everyone asked that Beyoncé be included. Is it possible to obtain Beyoncé or Rihanna? We’re in a room together and we’re saying, listen, we love Beyoncé.” Though we adore Rihanna, this role could be filled by other actors,” Oprah noted.
She went on, “I do recall discussions about how busy Beyoncé is going to be this year. Since Beyoncé isn’t coming, there was never even a negotiation.”
The film was directed by Blitz Bazawule and produced by Quincy Jones, Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey, and Scott Sanders.
When it debuted in theaters in 1985, Steven Spielberg’s expansive adaptation of The Color Purple was a critical and financial success. Oprah Winfrey received an Oscar nomination for her performance as Sofia in the film.
Despite these accolades, there remained concerns that the beloved film adaptation would be revived, and that fear persisted even after it debuted on Christmas Day.
The Queen of Daytime TV and her team had to fight for more funding and the cast that director Blitz Bazawule—who recently co-directed Queen Bey’s 2020 visual companion Black Is King—envisioned, despite having the illustrious source material.
“It’s a really deep movie with an all-Black cast,” she said. “So for Blitz, we all went in hard even when we were tired or when we were upset and the actors gave it their all, trying to over-deliver to support their director,” Oprah added.