Taraji P. Henson has landed the role of Shug Avery in the film adaptation of The Color Purple Broadway musical, Variety reported. The award-winning play is based on Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, which also serves as the foundation of Steven Spielberg’s Oscar-nominated 1985 film starring Whoopi Goldberg. The film is directed by Blitz Bazawule who is known for his work on Beyoncé’s Black Is King and other projects.
L’Oréal Global Ambassador R&B singer H.E.R. is set to star as Squeak, a juke joint waitress with dreams of being a singer whose nickname comes from her high-pitched voice. Actor Corey Hawkins was also previously announced as Harpo.
Oprah Winfrey is set to produce the upcoming film under her Harpo Films banner. Winfrey made her feature acting debut in the 1985 film as Sophia. Scott Sanders and Quincy Jones, both of whom produced the Broadway musical, are also producers. Alice Walker, Rebecca Walker, Mara Jacobs, Carla Gardini, Kristie Macosko Krieger, and Adam Fell are executive producers.
Taraji P. Henson walks in the footsteps of Margaret Avery who nailed her performance of Shug Avery in the Spielberg film. Jennifer Hudson, Michelle Williams, Heather Headley, Elisabeth Withers, Angela Robinson, and Nicola Hughes also took on the role in later productions of the stage musical.
While the 51-year-old may be known for dramatic roles in films such as Empire, Hidden Figures, and The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, Henson recently showcased her vocal talent as Miss Hannigan in NBC’s Annie Live!. In fact, you can hear the Golden Globe winner spit some bars on Mary J. Blige’s track “Get It Right” (below). The upcoming The Color Purple is slated to debut on Dec. 20, 2023.