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Oprah Winfrey and Taraji P. Henson discuss ‘full circle’ moments while presenting the new ‘Color Purple’ at CinemaCon

<i>Ethan Miller/Getty Images</i><br/>(From left) Blitz Bazawule
Getty Images
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
(From left) Blitz Bazawule

By Dan Heching, CNN

Oprah Winfrey appeared at CinemaCon for her first time in Las Vegas on Tuesday to present a new film that is near and dear to her heart — a musical reboot of 1985’s acclaimed “The Color Purple,” based on the novel of the same name by Alice Walker.

Winfrey, who starred in the 1985 film alongside Whoopi Goldberg and earned an Oscar nomination in the process, is a producer on the new film, which is a cinematic rendering of the 2005 Tony Award-winning musical.

She appeared on stage with the film’s director, Blitz Bazawule, and talked about how her involvement in the new “Color Purple” is a “full-circle moment” for her, after having been “discovered” as an actress when she was cast in the original movie after a fateful phone call with Quincy Jones.

Winfrey said the film “was the biggest and most important thing that happened to me,” and added that it still holds “great personal meaning.”

Bazawule and Winfrey then presented three of the film’s stars — Taraji P. Henson, who plays Shug Avery, Danielle Brooks, who portrays the character Winfrey originally played, Sofia, and “American Idol” champion Fantasia Barrino as protagonist Celie.

Henson echoed Winfrey’s sentiment about the new movie being “full circle” for her, since the Walker novel as well as the film featuring Winfrey had a huge impact on her in the past. She said she used to do monologues from the movie in acting class in college.

The “Benjamin Button” star also talked about how it was at first daunting to take on the role of jazz and blues singer Avery in the musical movie, as she is not immediately known for her singing talent (despite having studied musical theater at Howard University).

Fantasia and Brooks, who both have the distinction of reprising their respective roles after performing them on the Broadway stage, both expressed gratitude and wonder at being able to take part in the project, with Fantasia mentioning how the movie and its central song “I’m Here” is “healing.”

“The Color Purple” — which is also being co-produced alongside Winfrey by the 1985 film’s director Steven Spielberg — is expected in theaters on Christmas Day. The film is a Warner Bros. Pictures production, which like CNN is part of Warner Bros. Discovery.

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