The Color Purple’s Fantasia Barrino Reveals She Actually ‘Hated’ Being In The Broadway Show

Fantasia Barrino has truly had an extraordinary journey. She went from being a single 19-year-old mom on food stamps to being one of the most famous American Idol contestants. Some of the big moments from Barrino’s career include being the third Idol winner in the history of the show, getting to star as Celie in the Broadway adaptation of The Color Purple and reprising the role in the film remake. Surprisingly enough, though, the R&B singer admits that she actually “hated” her time being in the Broadway show.

The American Idol winner was inspired to play Celie in the Broadway musical The Color Purple after watching Whoopi Goldberg portray the same role in the Steven Spielberg-helmed film. But as she revealed to People, getting to portray that same role on stage took its toll on her from a mental standpoint:

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I hated it. That was around the time that my life was so crazy, so it was almost like carrying my cross and Celie’s cross. I didn’t know how to come out of the character.

The “I Believe” singer’s reasoning for her challenging Broadway debut revolves around her having to portray a character with whom she shared similar trauma. Like Celie, Fantasia Barrino was sexually assaulted, which is information she wrote about in her memoir, Life is Not a Fairytale. So it’s understandable that she wouldn’t want to dwell on that personal tragedy while embodying Celie for the stage play. Her 2007-2008 run on the show also had a physical affect on her, as the Grammy winner had to have surgery to remove two tumors that were on her vocal cords.

Considering her moments starring in the stage version of the story were emotionally taxing on her, you may be wondering why Fantasia Barrino decided to be part of the cast of The Color Purple‘s film remake. The Billboard Music Award winner’s initial doubts when called to reprise Celie were removed once she learned of director Blitz Bazawule’s story changes. He showed her that this time around, audiences would get to see Celie’s journey of getting through her hardships. And the movie does indeed put strong emphasis on the protagonist’s imagination and how it helps her process her trauma.

Fantasia's "Bittersweet" music video

<span class="credit">(Image credit: J Records)</span>

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Another change that’s being celebrated is Celie and Shrug’s romantic relationship in the remake. While these two characters share a kiss in the 1985 film, the new film deeply explores the romance between the two, which serves as a safety net for Celie. It’s their loving connection that gives her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship with Mister.

Just like Whoopi Goldberg made the role of Celie iconic, Fantasia Barrino has the glowing talent to pull off the difficult role, too.  After the “Bittersweet” singer’s first performance, the show landed  6.5 million in pre-ticket sales, and she eventually snagged the Theatre World Award. The accomplishments she’s achieved in her film acting debut have skyrocketed as well. Those who have screened The Color Purple have described Barrino as a “powerhouse” and a real standout for the movie. Not only that, but she also already has a Golden Globe nomination for her performance.

It’s unfortunate that being in the Broadway production of The Color Purple may not have been a pleasant experience for Fantasia Barrino. But her performances have not gone unnoticed, as critics and audiences have been loving what she’s brought to the stage and the screen. And what’s particularly great is that she’s since been able to play a less sombre version of the character for the new movie. You can see for yourself why critics and audiences love her in the role by checking out the movie in theatres now.


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