The new film adaptation of the Broadway musical The Color Purple has found its Shug Avery. Variety reports, Taraji P. Henson will play the jazz singer in the upcoming movie.
Directed by Blitz Bazawule (Black is King, Cherish the Day), The Color Purple follows Celie as she marries Mister, then suffers through years of abuse, before overcoming everything, and becoming a successful businesswoman.
In the 1985 film, Margaret Avery memorably played Shug, Mister’s mistress, who becomes romantically involved with Celie. Well, as much as two Black women could be romantically involved on screen in 1985.
In the musical, they actually have a relationship, with Shug taking on a larger role. Actresses like Jennifer Hudson, Michelle Williams and Heather Headley have played her on stage.
Of course, Oprah Winfrey is producing through Harpo Films, along with Steven Spielberg for Amblin Entertainment. Broadway musical producers Scott Sanders and Quincy Jones are also on board with executive producers Alice Walker, Rebecca Walker, Mara Jacobs, Carla Gardini, Kristie Macosko Krieger and Adam Fell.
Henson joins previously announced cast members Corey Hawkins (The Tragedy of Macbeth) as Harpo and H.E.R. as Squeak.
The Oscar and Emmy nominee recently showed off her musical bonafides as Miss Hannigan in the NBC special Annie Live! She had a lot of fun with “Little Girls.”
Celie hasn’t been cast yet, but she was unforgettably played by LaChanze, Cynthia Erivo and Fantasia. Whoever is in the running has to have a voice that can stand up to those three amazing women singing her signature song “I’m Here.” Do yourself a favor and watch Fantasia’s version, it’s ridiculous how good she is.
Henson can next be seen on her Facebook Watch show Peace of Mind with Taraji, and heard as a voice in Minions: The Rise of Gru, which hits theaters July 1.
Are you excited to see Taraji as Shug Avery?
The Color Purple is scheduled for release on December 20, 2023.