Talent Recap

Why Fantasia Barrino Initially Declined Her Role in ‘The Color Purple’

Fantasia Barrino Q85: A Musical Celebration For Quincy JonesGetty Images

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Fantasia Barrino initially declined the offer to reprise her role as Celie in the upcoming adaptation of The Color Purple. In a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, the American Idol winner shared what made her change her mind about the project.

Fantasia Barrino Almost Declined The Color Purple Movie

The Color Purple is based on the novel by Alice Walker, which was adapted into a 1985 movie and later a Broadway musical. Both Barrino the new film’s director Blitz Bazawule were hesitant about bringing the story to the screen for yet another adaptation.

“At first I felt like, ‘Why are we touching it?'” said Barrino, who previously played Celie on Broadway. “What I felt and carried stepping into her shoes and playing her role, I wasn’t ready to go back to that.”

After reading the book again, Bazawule said he realized it is “truly is an endless well.” When Barrino heard his ideas, she “fell in love with the fact that he gave Celie an imagination.” 

“It changed with me. I’m not the same girl. I have a different lens,” Barrino said about how her approach to the role has changed. “See, the way I saw it on Broadway was, my life was in shambles and Celie’s was, too, so it was heavy … But now that I’m sitting pretty, now that I’m older, now that I’m wiser, now that I do therapy, now that I do the things that I need to do for myself and allow growth, Celie grew.”



Barrino Sang Live in the New Film

In the new film, out Christmas Day, Barrino sang the song “I’m Here” live on set. Bazawule called it “a stripped-down moment where this woman bares her soul.” Barrino said she sang the song “about a hundred times — at 5 o’clock in the morning, in the cold.”

“I feel like there was once a time in my career where things were not so good,” Barrino shared. “Days were not so bright, but I kept going and I never gave up. Through Celie, I caught my breakthrough and I’m grateful for that.”

Barrino said she’s proud of herself “for standing up and doing things that I never thought I could do and bouncing back.” She added, “It feels like Idol again. But I’m just wiser. I’m grown now.”

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