Oprah Winfrey is seriously a one-of-a-kind mega-billionaire. With her humble beginnings in local media, per Winfrey’s official biography on her website, the world-renowned philanthropist became one of the biggest names in media and business. There are so many ways to go on about the iconic woman. From being the first Black, female billionaire to creating her own all-girl school in South Africa, Winfrey is truly a force to be reckoned with.
Needless to say, Winfrey is a woman of many talents. One of those talents involves producing extraordinary projects for television, film and stage. Over the course of her career, Winfrey has served as a producer on numerous projects, but one, in particular, forever linked her to Season 3 American Idol winner Fantasia Barrino. Barrino, who also came from humble beginnings, found herself under the wing of Winfrey following her debut on Broadway as Celie in the Broadway version of The Color Purple.
Let’s take a look at the relationship between these two formidable women.
Fantasia Barrino and Oprah both starred in The Color Purple
In 1985, Oprah Winfrey made her acting debut in the culture-shifting Steven Spielberg film The Color Purple, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name written by Alice Walker. Winfrey played Sophia, a heart-wrenching role that ultimately landed her an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
To further the legacy of the film — which received 11 Academy Award nominations, per Variety – Spielberg and Winfrey (as executive producer) joined forces to bring the story to Broadway in 2005. According to Broadway Buzz, Fantasia Barrino appeared as a “replacement in the leading role of Celie” from April 2007 until January 2008. Despite her personal doubt about not being able to successfully perform on Broadway, the “Truth Is” singer received rave reviews.
“… I was scared. For days, I thought and prayed, and I finally decided to try it,” she told Winfrey in a 2007 interview for Oprah Magazine. “On opening night, I thought, “I’ve got to do my best for all the people who’ve come to see the show.’ When the crowd applauded during my first lines, I knew they wanted to see me do good, and I thought, “I can do this.”
Fantasia Barrino considers Oprah a mentor
While it’s impressive in and of itself that Fantasia Barrino shined in the Broadway musical adaption of The Color Purple, as it turns out, the American Idol alum was hand-picked for the role by Oprah Winfrey herself. In 2008, Barrino told People that The Color Purple actress shared quite a bit of insight and wisdom after awarding her the iconic role.
“Oprah gave me a lot of advice. She sat me down … Just, you know, how a lady should carry herself. How to manage your money. How to not put your trust in everybody. Just watch your back,” she said. “But most of all, you have to watch what you do. You have to carry yourself in such a way. You have to just watch your every move and carry yourself as a lady. So other young ladies who are watching you will know this is how you do it.”
In November 2018, The Hollywood Reporter, reported that a movie adaptation of the Broadway version of The Color Purple was in the works. At the time, the outlet noted that “no casting decisions [had] been made.” That being said, it’s possible that fans will get a chance to see the “Bittersweet” singer belt out those notes one more time, especially if Winfrey has anything to say about it.
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