Taraji P. Henson says ‘The Color Purple’ represents Black culture, but is a film for everyone

Alon Amir

The cultural impact of The Color Purple, with its Black characters who break free from oppression, makes it an important film in the Black community, says Taraji P. Henson, who stars as Shug Avery in the 2023 film adaptation.  

The themes of resilience and overcoming adversity, as well as this adaptation’s overarching focus on joy, makes the movie relatable to all, she tells ABC Audio. 

“This movie is not just a Black story,” Henson says. “It’s a story about humanity. We all fall down, but we get up. You know, we’re not perfect.” 

But it is a story that particularly resonates with many Black people. That’s why having Blitz Bazawule, a Black man, as director means so much for the film, she says.

Bazawule adds a fresh spin on the beloved classic, which follows Celie, played by Fantasia Barrino, on a journey to self-independence amid assault and racism in the South in the 1900s. 

“It’s just been a part of our DNA for so long and it’s about a part of history that we just can’t forget,” Henson says. “This story takes place [with] the first generation of free Black people.” 

That’s a main reason the Oscar winner believes the film is so important: with The Color Purple, “we were free, we were free to tell our truth.”

The Color Purple will premiere in theaters on Christmas Day, December 25. 

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