Thursday, May 31, 2012

Oprah Winfrey and The Color Purple

[By Kenton Rambsy]

Since her debut acting role in the 1985 Steven Spielberg directed film, based on Alice Walker’s 1983 novel, Oprah Winfrey’s involvement movie adaption of novels has been active. She has served as both an actress and producer. Similar to her involvement with Morrison’s works, Winfrey’s has demonstrated an extended connection to The Color Purple.

On December 18, 1985, in a Los Angeles Times review of the movie, The Color Purple, Shelia Benson wrote, “In Oprah Winfrey’s hands, Sofia is indomitable and unforgettable.” Oprah’s portrayal of Sofia and the now famous lines “You told Harpo to beat me” are etched in audiences’ minds. Winfrey would go on to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance. Her involvement in the film coincided with the increase her national visibility of her talk show, which gained national syndication in 1986—a year after the movie premiered.

The Color Purple is aired on cable television networks across the country nearly every year, sometimes on multiple occasions. In 2011, as part of the TNT “tear jerker” movies series, The Color Purple aired on the network 11 times.

On December 1, 2005, The Color Purple received yet another incarnation and was adapted into a Broadway musical. On the marquee and promotional materials for the musical, the description read “Oprah Winfrey presents The Color Purple..A New Musical.” Winfrey funded the promotion and development of the play. Moreover, her association with the musical helped lend credibility, linking the Oprah brand to the play.

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