The Color Purple arrives in theaters Christmas Day and we had the privilege and honor of speaking with the primary cast.
Our Sr. Content Director Janeé Bolden asked ‘Young Celie’ actress Phylicia Pearl Mpasi what it’s been like for The Color Purple to be her debut feature film role.
“I was so nervous, I was doe-eyed and didn’t know how anything worked and this was like the perfect training ground to set me off for the rest of my career,” Mpasi told GlobalGrind. “I had an incredible cast. They’re all masters at their craft. Blitz was amazing Oprah was amazing, so I just feel so prepared to keep going!”
We really loved watching Phylicia’s onscreen sisterly bond with Halle Bailey, and couldn’t help but notice their palpable friendship on display at premiere events for the film. Phylicia credited Halle for diving right in and showing her the ropes on set.
“From the second I walked into the room for our chemistry read, she was like, ‘Do you have any questions or want to go over anything? I can help you.’” Phylicia recalled. “And I was like, ‘Please let’s go over the scene,’ and from there, it’s so interesting, our dynamic off set was the same dynamic as Celie and Nettie’s, because she taught me so much about what it’s like to be on a set — how to find camera angles, how to find your light. We just really connected as two giddy girls, happy to be working together but also as like actual sisters and real friends. She’s amazing and so wonderful and so kind.”
We also had to ask Phylicia about her uncanny resemblance to Fantasia Barrino Taylor as well as their dynamic. Phylicia plays the younger version of Celie in the film, while Fantasia tackles Celie’s scenes as an adult.
“There was literally a scene at some point where she’d like turned her face a certain way and I was with my friend at the premiere like, ‘I didn’t film that. What is that? She was like, ‘That’s not you.’ I said, ‘Oh my God!’ It’s the only time I’ve ever been like, ‘Whoa, we really look alike!’ She’s just been so empowering and she said the other day she wants to be for me what she didn’t have in this industry. And I feel that so much. At every turn, she’s a phone call, a text away and she’s even like caught me before I have a question. She’s like, ‘ I can see it in your eyes you’re nervous… Let’s take a beat, let’s talk.’ And she just wants to empower me and really make sure that I feel comfortable to take up space and that I belong.”
We love that Fantasia is doing that for her. How sweet is that? Another thing we love about this version of The Color Purple is the tone is much more joyful. Mpasi revealed that director Blitz Bazawule made it a priority that her character would emanate the optimism Celie has during her younger years.
“I think especially with my character it was really important for me and Blitz that we get to see the joy and the love and the fun Celie has in the beginning and it just feels even more gutting when she’s taken away from her sister… Everyone on set had their own connection and their own dream for this. This was a lot of people’s dream project, so all we did was take our love and respect for the piece and just put it into it and I think that really shows. The joy we had just filming it off-set together like really shows on screen.”
Phylicia also did an incredible impression of Oprah Winfrey as she spoke about meeting the executive producer on set for the first time.
“When I first met her she was like, “Phylicia! It’s you! I’ve seen your face in the dailies, you’re doing so great!’ It’s like, ‘Thank you Ms. Winfrey!’ I was like, ‘You’ve kept me waiting.’ Like my whole life I wanted to meet her and just to meet her in this moment, in this piece was so fantastic. She just was like, ‘You know, you were our choice, you are here for a reason. Take up your space baby, this is only the beginning.’ Now I’m just waiting for my invite to her house!
The Color Purple arrives in theaters on Christmas Day, Monday, December 25.
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