Oprah explains why Beyoncé wasn’t cast in the The Color Purple musical

Oprah Winfrey reacts to Beyoncé Renaissance World Tour in the best way.

Oprah Winfrey has explained why she didn’t cast music mega-stars Beyoncé and Rihanna in the musical adaptation of The Color Purple.

Oprah starred as Sofia in the 1985 Steven Spielberg adaptation of Alice Walker’s award-winning novel The Color Purple. Almost forty years on, the iconic TV personality stepped up as producer for the onscreen adaptation of the Tony-winning musical version of The Color Purple.

The groundbreaking plot (which takes place over several decades) follows a southern African-American woman named Celie (Fantasia Barrino), who is traumatically torn apart from her sister Nettie and forced to marry an abusive man known as Mister (Rustin star Colman Domingo).

In adulthood, Celie meets her step-son’s outspoken wife Sofia (Danielle Brooks) and Mister’s mistress, showgirl Shug Avery (Taraji P. Henson), with whom she grows deep and meaningful bonds while never giving up hope that one day she will be reunited with her sister Nettie.

Oprah Winfrey is a producer on The Collar Purple movie musical.
Oprah Winfrey is a producer on The Color Purple movie musical. (Getty)

Directed by Blitz Bazawule, the movie musical also stars Halle Bailey (The Little Mermaid), Phylicia Pearl Mpasi and Corey Hawkins. But, according to Oprah, there were some names that simply didn’t make the cut for the coveted cast list, including major music artists Beyoncé and Rihanna.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Oprah revealed why she shut down attempts to cast Beyoncé and Rihanna in the film using their massive budget.

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“To be completely honest about it, if you were doing this film for $30 or $40 million, the interest in the cast would be very different,” she told the publication. “Once the film moved to $90 to $100 million, then everybody wants us to bring Beyoncé. ‘Can you get Beyoncé or can you get Rihanna?’

“So we’re sitting in a room saying, ‘Listen, we love Beyoncé. We love Rihanna, but there are other actors who can do this job.’ I do remember conversations about, ‘Y’all, Beyoncé is going to be busy this year.’ It wasn’t even a negotiation, because you’re not getting Beyoncé.”

Beyoncé in a silver sparkling bodysuit performing on the Renaissance Tour.
Beyoncé released Renaissance: A Film By Beyoncé in cinemas earlier this month. (Getty/Kevin Mazur)

Oprah’s not wrong. The “Break My Soul” hitmaker has been touring across US and Europe this year with her Renaissance World Tour. And although she won’t be appearing on the big screen for The Color Purple, the singer released her own film, Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé, in cinemas earlier this month to rave reviews.

Meanwhile, Rihanna made her highly anticipated return to live music earlier this year after performing at the Super Bowl halftime show, where she also announced her second pregnancy – leaving her busier than ever.

Nevertheless, Oprah fought for a big budget with major studio Warner Bros in order to do justice for this vital remake.

“‘You have to give us more money to do this because this is a cultural manifesto in a way for our community, and it deserves to have the support that’s needed to make it what it needs to be’,'” she recalled telling Warner Bros. co-chairs Pam Abdy and Mike De Luca.

The original 1985 remake scored four Golden Globes nominations and 11 Academy award nods. The new musical looks set to follow in its critically acclaimed footsteps with two Golden Globe nominations for Barrino and Brooks, although it notably failed to land a Best Musical or Comedy nomination.

The Color Purple arrives in UK cinemas on 26 January 2024.

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