The Color Purple x ESSENCE

Source: Mickalene Thomas / Essence

ESSENCE has released a star-studded cover to mark a forthcoming bold new take on a beloved soul-stirring film.

Oprah, Danielle Brooks, H.E.R., Taraji P. Henson, and Fantasia are covering the publication’s 2023 Holiday Issue for November/December, celebrating the nearly 40-year legacy of The Color Purple and strong sisterhood within Black Hollywood.

The stars of one of the most anticipated films of the year are debuting their only cast cover of the season and reflecting to writer Felice Léon about infusing the original story with musical elements while introducing it to a new generation of women.

Oprah, who is joined as EP of the project alongside fellow heavy hitters like (of course) Steven Spielberg, Quincy Jones, and Scott Sanders, calls the big-screen adaptation of the Broadway musical a “full-circle moment.” The Color Purple marked her first movie role, earned her an Academy Award nomination, and “changed everything” despite earning the now mega-mogul only $35,000.

According to Oprah, that small paycheck was well worth it.


“One of the things I’m most excited about is what The Color Purple will do for the -sisterhood,” said Oprah about the film.”And God taught me to surrender—that was the big lesson for me. They were only offering $35,000 to be in this film, and it is the best $35,000 I ever earned.”

See more quotes from ESSENCE’s 2023 Holiday Issue below.

Golden Globe-Winning Actress, Taraji P. Henson

“Tyler Perry hit me and was like, “Are you answering your phone?” I was like, “Why?” He said, “Girl, just answer the phone!” I’ll never forget the day. I was so nervous. What do you say to Oprah?”

Tony-Nominated Actress, Danielle Brooks

“Finding out that I got the role of Sofia, for the second time, was the best gift ever. It was two days after my birthday. They tricked me! They were like, “You’ve got one more call with the director, Blitz Bazawule.” I’m thinking, I’ve had so many calls—what are you talking about? All of a sudden, Ms. Oprah Winfrey pops up on the screen. I was very shocked, like OMG! She chose me for this!”

Grammy-Winning Singer and Actress, Fantasia Barrino

“In the beginning, I wasn’t going to take the role—because I knew I was going to have to step into some things that I’d buried.”

“I would say thank you, Ms. Whoopi Goldberg, for not being afraid to play Celie. For being honest. Thank you for paving the way for girls like myself.”

Grammy-Winner Singer and Actress, H.E.R.

“Ms. Rae Dawn Chong [“Squeak”], thank you for giving me an opportunity to show myself. A lot of people know me and my music, but they don’t really know me. They’re getting to see me: Who I am, having fun and feeling empowered.”

The Color Purple will arrive in theaters on Christmas Day.


ESSENCE’s 2023 Holiday Issue (November/December) promises to be an unforgettable celebration of Black Hollywood this holiday season. Get ready to dive into the magic of this new issue, when it hits newsstands on October 31st.


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