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Fantasia and Danielle Brooks to star in ‘The Color Purple’ movie musical

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ABC/Jeff Neira

The forthcoming movie musical of The Color Purple has found its leading ladies.

American Idol season three winner Fantasia will play Celie and Orange Is the New Black alum Danielle Brooks will play Sofia, it was announced Thursday during ABC News’ Soul of a Nation Presents: Screen Queens Rising.

The parts were made famous by Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey, respectively, in Steven Spielberg‘s 1985 film adaptation of Alice Walker‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning 1982 novel of the same name. Both actresses earned their first Oscar nominations for their work in the movie.

A musical version of the iconic work was staged on Broadway from 2005 to 2008, with Fantasia playing the role of Celie from 2007 to 2008 during the original Broadway run. Brooks earned a Tony nod for playing Sofia in the Broadway revival, which ran from 2015 to 2017.

Winfrey surprised a very emotional Brooks with a Zoom call to tell her she landed the role, saying, “I am here representing all things purple to tell you that you are our Sophia. I’m so happy to pass whatever baton from 35 — almost 40 — years ago to you. And I know you’re gonna kill it.”

“My heart is so full,” a teary Brooks said. “I’m going to make you so proud.”

“You already have,” Winfrey responded. “I wanted to be the one to tell you because you know I have such love for her, this character, everything she represents and everything she brought to my life. And what I’m hoping is that she does the same thing for you.”

Fantasia and Brooks join a star-studded The Color Purple cast including Taraji P. Henson, H.E.R. and Halle Bailey. The film, to be directed by Blitz Bazawule, begins production this spring and is slated for release in 2023.

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