The Ladies Of ‘The Color Purple’ Take Over Hollywood For a Day of Black Excellence

Taraji P. Henson, Danielle Brooks, and Fantasia Barrino Taylor were celebrated in honor of the film, which is set to premiere on December 25.

Prince might have made purple sexy, but Taraji P. Henson, Danielle Brooks and Fantasia Barrino Taylor are about to make it forever memorable. These ladies represent three of the most talented actresses in Hollywood and will have their acting and singing skills on full display during the highly anticipated musical remake of “The Color Purple" (adapted from the Alice Walker) scheduled to be released on Christmas day. 

In anticipation of the film’s release, Henson, Brooks, and Barrino Taylor, as well as the film’s acclaimed director Blitz Bazawule were invited last weekend to the Black Excellence Brunch at Serra on Vine in Hollywood. 

The all-white affair was organized by media expert and entertainment tastemaker Trell Thomas, who created the Black Excellence Brunch in 2018 to conjoin a community of young Black professionals from all industries where they can be informed, entertained, and inspired through networking and fellowship.


Oprah Winfrey Sizzles At ‘The Color Purple’ Premiere

The celebration began with an exclusive private screening of the movie at the Academy of Arts & Sciences. Following the screening, the team at the luxury event space Serra On Vine  provided guests with a beautiful purple-themed display featuring crafted cocktails and mocktails in the theme of the film and a catered menu of soul food-inspired “Sunday dinner”-like dishes. It definitely scored high rankings in the vibe check as all shades of melanin from various walks of Black culture pervaded the room.

Photo by Kai Byrd | Used with permission

Trell Thomas started the Black Excellence Brunch in 2018.

As eventgoers, who also included Da Brat, Tabitha Brown, and Kev on Stage, took their seats, a six-woman gospel choir took the crowd to church with a medley of songs performed in the film, including “God’s Trying to Tell You Something” and “I Am Here.” While the choir continued to bring the house down, Barrino Taylor entered the event space and hyped up the performers. She rocked a beautiful white gown with sheer details. Sis looked incredible! 

Photo by Kai Byrd | Used with permission

A six-woman gospel choir took the crowd to church.

Once the choir completed their soul-stirring songs, Thomas led a panel discussion with the cast and director, setting the tone by asking each of them to explain “What is Black excellence?”

“Standing in your power and knowing who you are. This is honoring the ancestors, the people that came before you, and making them proud,” said Brooks, who plays Sofia (originally played by Oprah Winfrey) in the film. This comes as a full-circle moment for Brooks, who was cast in 2015 in the Broadway production of the story.

Ahead of the film’s release, Barrino Taylor has generated award nomination buzz for her role as Celie (originated by Whoopi Goldberg). Barrino Taylor also first encroached upon the role during her 2007 Broadway run. Even though she’s just been nominated for a Golden Globe, Barrino Taylor says she isn’t feeding feeding into the awards chatter.

“I don’t focus on it at all,” she said during the conversation.

As she brings the iconic character to life for the second time, she instead focuses on the forces that have allowed her the strength to embody Celie and her complexities. To achieve this, she says Bazawule gave the character imagination. “I didn’t want Celie to always go through and just be slumped over,” said Barrino Taylor. 

The singer recalled how her husband, Kendall Taylor, encouraged her to use her own life experiences to tell Celie’s story while also maintaining the character’s authenticity. “You can go through this thing and still be who you are,” she remembered him saying. “Don’t focus on the accolades.”

Although awards season has yet to arrive, she is grateful no matter how the nominations unfold.

“If it happens, thank you, Lord, but if not, I’m just thankful you allowed me to be on stage with them,” she said.

It’s that spirit of trust and gratitude that seems to permeate each of the ladies, including Henson. 

“I'm most proud of overcoming my fears,” said Henson, who plays Shug Avery (originated by Margaret Avery) in the film. Upon reflecting on becoming a young mom in her junior year while attending Howard University, Henson knows motherhood is her greatest accomplishment in life, but it was an early lesson to learn. 

Photo by Kai Byrd | Used with permission

Trell Thomas stands in the middle of the panel which included (Brooks, Barrino Taylor, Henson, and Bazawule.

“Having that kid and not fearing what people were saying and believing in myself, believing that I could still go out and make my dreams come true.”

As the panel wrapped, Thomas gave each actor, along with Bazawule, a bouquet of flowers for their contributions to the media industry. Born in Ghana, Bazawule also co-directed Beyoncé’s Black Is King, which earned him a Grammy nomination. He’s a multidisciplinary artist whose works have been featured at the Whitney Biennial, which means the melding of his artistic talents will produce a film that we shall soon not forget.

A new generation of fans will enjoy Bazawule’s creative process and vision, which include variations in shots, colors, focus, and angles unlike the original. The film sings aesthetically, along with the memorable performances from the cast.

Photo by Kai Byrd | Used with permission

"The Color Purple" director Blitz Bazawule.

If this level of work isn’t celebrated by the mainstream award systems for its artistic and technical merit, it will indeed be celebrated and applauded by those of us in the Black media and film communities who can appreciate the efforts made by all who had a hand in its creation. You will truly witness a piece of art come to life on screen.

The Color Purple” hits theaters on December 25.

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