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HER Makes First Acting Debut in Musical Film ‘The Color Purple’

H.E.R. is set to make her film acting debut in Warner Bros.’ adaptation of the Tony-winning Broadway musical “The Color Purple,” an individual with knowledge told TheWrap.

The musical, of course, is based on the 1982 novel by Alice Walker, and Steven Spielberg directed the 1985 adaptation, starring Whoop Goldberg. It received 11 Oscar nominations, including best actress for Goldberg, but was shut out.

The story centers on a black woman named Celie, who grows up in intense poverty in the American South and endures harsh treatment from her stepfather, husband and others in her life, which tests her faith in God and humankind. Walker won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, becoming the first black woman to do so. H.E.R. will play a character named Squeak, a woman who goes from waitress to singer.

Blitz Bazawule, who most recently directed Beyoncé’s Disney+ visual album “Black Is King, is directing. Marcus Gardley wrote the screenplay.

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The 2005 Broadway musical, with a book by playwright Marsha Norman, earned 11 Tony nominations but didn’t win best musical. The 2016 revival won two Tonys, including best musical revival, as well as both a Grammy and an Emmy. The musical has grossed more than $350 million.

Oprah Winfrey is set to produce with her Harpo Films banner, with Spielberg through his Amblin banner. Scott Sanders and Quincy Jones are also producing, while Alice Walker, Rebecca Walker, Kristie Macosko Krieger, Carla Gardini, and Mara Jacobs are executive producing.

Warner Bros. will release the film on Dec. 20, 2023.

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H.E.R. most recently won an Oscar for Best Original Song for “Fight For You,” which was featured in the studio’s “Judas and the Black Messiah.” Her 2017 self-titled album “H.E.R.” was nominated for multiple Grammys and even won two. She recently released her debut full-length album “Back of My Mind.” In 2021, she was awarded the Grammy Award for Song of the Year for “I Can’t Breathe.”

H.E.R. — the Oscar-winning singer-songwriter behind hits like “Best Part” and “Focus” — is in final negotiations to make her feature film acting debut in The Color Purple movie musical.

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Warner Bros. is behind the feature adaptation of the Tony-winning Broadway musical, itself an adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning 1982 novel by Alice Walker, on which the Oscar-nominated Steven Spielberg-directed 1985 movie was based. The story centers on a woman named Celie Harris and tracks her life-long struggles as an African American woman living in the South during the early 1900s.

H.E.R. will play Squeak, who, in the musical, goes from a juke joint waitress to an aspiring singer. (Rae Dawn Chong played the role in the original Spielberg feature.)

Blitz Bazawule, the filmmaker behind the Beyonce-fronted Black Is King, is set to direct the fresh take on the musical. Marcus Gardley penned the screenplay, adapted from Marsha Norman’s book and Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray’s score.

The movie is in pre-production with casting beginning to come together and chemistry reads happening now. Sources close to the production note that casting and creative decisions are being made to bring the story and its themes to a new generation of viewers. Along with H.E.R. — who sources say is working with filmmakers to possibly perform a new original song for the movie musical adaptation — In The Heights star Corey Hawkins joined the film this week.

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Oprah Winfrey, who had her feature acting debut in Spielberg’s The Color Purple and earned an Oscar nomination, is producing via her Harpo Films banner with Spielberg under his Amblin Entertainment. Scott Sanders and Quincy Jones, both of whom were behind the Broadway musical, will also produce. Walker, Rebecca Walker, Kristie Macosko Krieger, Carla Gardini, Adam Fell, and Mara Jacobs executive producing.

Warners has set a release date of December 20, 2023.

The Color Purple will be a reunion of sorts for H.E.R. and Warner Bros. During this year’s Oscar ceremony, the artist took home the best original song award for “Fight For You” featured in the studio’s Judas and the Black Messiah. H.E.R., whose real name is Gabriella Sarmiento Wilson, broke out with EP H.E.R. Volume 1 and then 2017’s self-titled H.E.R., which was nominated for multiple Grammys, winning two, including best R&B album. Most recently, she released her debut full-length album Back of My Mind.

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