Broadway legend Jennifer Holliday
Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Thurgood Marshall College Fund

Jennifer Holliday is a self-proclaimed Broadway baby—and once a Broadway baby, always a Broadway baby.

The legendary actress started her career decades ago in Your Arms Too Short to Box With God but won the world over in Dreamgirls as Effie White—for which Holliday won a Tony Award. The iconic play ran on Broadway 35 years ago, but her rendition of “And I’m Telling You” remains unmatched.

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Holliday went on to a career in music while maintaining her stage roots. This October she returned to Broadway as Shug Avery in the Tony Award-winning The Color Purple.

But don’t call it a comeback.

Holliday’s vocal cords are still primed (read: The woman can still belt), she’s wearing purple for the cameras (which Holliday believes is a life-affirming color) and her smile is bright. What more could one ask for?

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“Who would have thought that after you’ve been through everything … you’ve been to hell and back, that there’s still a promise of another heaven?” Holliday, who battles multiple sclerosis, told The Root for Food for Thought, a video series celebrating the ingenuity and accomplishments of celebrities and influencers of the African Diaspora.

We sat down with the original Dreamgirl to discuss revival and The Color Purple and to have her share some “food for thought.”