Turning Point: When Actors Became Superstars

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  • Jaden Smith
  • Jennifer Hudson
  • Oprah Winfrey
  • Rosie Perez
  • Denzel Washington
  • Octavia Spencer
  • Queen Latifah
  • Samuel L. Jackson
  • Jada Pinkett Smith
  • Will Smith
  • Eddie Murphy
  • Nia Long
  • Michael B. Jordan
  • Halle Berry
  • Kevin Hart
  • Sanaa Lathan

Oprah Winfrey, The Color Purple (1985)

When Quincy Jones and Steven Spielberg cast Winfrey, who was then a successful talk-show host with no acting experience, as Sofia in the film adaptation of Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, critics expected her to fall flat on her face. Instead, Winfrey delivered a standout performance amidst a star-studded ensemble. She went on to be nominated for an Oscar, along with castmate Margaret Avery, making it the first time two Black women would compete in the same category.  


(Photo: Warner Brothers/courtesy Everett Collection)

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