Taraji P. Henson has signed on to star alongside H.E.R. and Corey Hawkins in Blitz Bazawule’s (Black Is King) adaptation of The Color Purple for Warner Bros., Deadline has confirmed.
The upcoming film is based on the Tony-winning musical from Marsha Norman, Brenda Lee, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray, which was based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning epistolary novel by Alice Walker. It comes on the heels of a classic 1985 film adaptation from director Steven Spielberg and centers on Celie, a Black Southern woman who struggles to find her identity after suffering abuse from her father and others over the course of four decades.
Henson will play Shug Avery, a jazz and blues singer played in Spielberg’s adaptation by Margaret Avery, and by icons including Jennifer Hudson in various adaptations for the stage.
The Chi‘s Marcus Gardley handled the screenplay adaptation. Oprah Winfrey, who played Sofia in the 1985 film, will produce through her company Harpo Films alongside Spielberg for Amblin Entertainment and Scott Sanders and Quincy Jones, the latter two having previously produced the Broadway show. Alice Walker is exec producing alongside Rebecca Walker, Kristie Macosko Krieger, Carla Gardini, Mara Jacobs and Adam Fell. The film is set for release on December 20, 2023.
Henson is an Oscar- and three-time Emmy nominee who nabbed the former recognition for her supporting turn in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, garnering those on the TV side for Fox’s Empire and the television movie Taken from Me: The Tiffany Rubin Story. The actress recently portrayed Miss Hannigan in NBC’s Annie Live! and has also appeared in such series as Person of Interest and Boston Legal, and in films including Hidden Figures and Top Five, among many others.
Henson is represented by CAA, M88 and attorney Matthew Johnson of Johnson Shapiro Slewett & Kole.
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