Oprah Winfrey didn’t take her The Color Purplerole for the money. In an interview with Essence Magazine, the 69-year-old mogul reveals that she was paid only $35,000 for her Oscar-nominated role of Sofia in the 1985 film.
“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,” Winfrey tells Danielle Brooks, Taraji P. Henson, H.E.R., and Fantasia Barrino, the cast of the upcoming film adaptation. “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.”
Addressing the new cast, Winfrey says, “And to have all of you beautiful Black women bearing witness to the story, as the story moves forward, means so much… 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.”
Brooks will be taking on the role of Sofia in the 2023 reimagining, but Winfrey is still involved in the project as she’s producing the 2023 adaptation of Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize–winning novel.
“This is a full-circle moment,” Winfrey says of her participation in the film. “One of the things I’m most excited about is what The Color Purple will do for the sisterhood. I think that this is a movie that people will celebrate with their families. But I think women, in particular, will be healed from this movie and its portrayal of sisterhood.”
Winfrey noted The Color Purple “has a legacy.” There’s “the book Alice Walker wrote, then our film version in 1985, then the musical in 2005 and again in 2015. And now here we are. It just keeps evolving.”
When ET spoke to H.E.R. in July, she revealed the advice Winfrey gave her for taking on the role of Squeak.
“It’s so amazing because she was so vulnerable with us and she didn’t even talk about necessarily her successes, but she taught us about the beginning,” the singer said. “[She shared] what she might have felt [were] not necessarily failures but just the beginning, you know, when you’re not Oprah, yet.”
“And she talked about how her name wasn’t even on the original [movie’s] flyer, so that was really special for her to share and to see her progress now, and it’s important to see people’s journeys,” H.E.R. added. “It’s important to see and understand that things just don’t happen, you gotta work hard for it. So she gave us that advice and told us those stories and they were very inspiring.”
The Color Purplewill hit theaters on Christmas Day.