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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.