Oprah Winfrey, The Color Purple, cameo

Why Oprah Declined Cameo In ‘The Color Purple’: ‘I Just Think It’s More Special That It’s Just Whoopi’

Oprah Winfrey said she thought about having a cameo in the new film, but decided it would be distracting to Sofia's character.

Media icon Oprah Winfrey recently explained her decision not to cameo alongside Whoopi Goldberg in the latest adaptation of Alice Walker’s classic novel The Color Purple. While Goldberg, 68, who played the original Celie, makes a cameo, 69-year-old Winfrey, who portrayed Sofia in the first film, chose to pass on an onscreen appearance.

A cameo “would’ve been good in the church scene, but I thought it would also be distracting when Sofia is getting married,” Winfrey told The Hollywood Reporter. “Also, I just think it’s more special that it’s just Whoopi.” With COVID spreading at the time of filming, Winfrey added, “I ain’t sitting in that church all day anyway.”

Winfrey felt that keeping the focus on Goldberg’s cameo as a midwife was “more special” and allowed the scene to highlight Celie’s journey.

Though absent from the film, the media icon has championed its release as a producer. She recently told People, “It’s as big a miracle as my whole life has been.” Referring to the original 1985 movie that earned her an Oscar nod, Winfrey said it “continues to be a central theme in my life.” When she took on the career-defining role of Sofia, she’d had over a decade’s experience in TV news but no connections in Hollywood. “I didn’t know one single soul in the business,” she shared. The Color Purple marked her acting debut and first-ever experience on a movie set.

Now, nearly four decades later, the project remains deeply personal to Winfrey, and she still pays reverent homage to Steven Spielberg’s adaptation. She has supported the new generation of cast members through the entire process of the new production. BLACK ENTERPRISE previously covered the day she gifted the film’s cast members with purple Telfar bags filled with Fandango movie tickets. The Telfar brand appeared on the “Oprah’s Favorite Things” list, released in November 2023. The actress shared the surprise in a Dec. 1 Instagram post.

Winfrey starred in Spielberg’s 1985 film and earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

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