The Color Purple is considered one of the most important movies for black women and women, in general. The characters in Alice Walker’s 1982 novel were portrayed as complex people, which is why Steven Spielberg jumped at the chance to make a movie based on the book three years later.
Whoopi Goldberg, the EGOT entertainer, got her breakout through the movie The Color Purple. This led to her first Academy Award nomination and having major career in the movie industry to this day.
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Whoopi Goldberg stopped her car when she first heard about “The Color Purple”
At the beginning of the 1980s, Goldberg was raising her daughter in Berkeley, California, and trying to survive through harsh times. Goldberg worked as a bricklayer, a bank teller, and a make-up artist at a morgue, among other jobs. The first time she heard Alice Walker read The Color Purple, her whole world stopped.
In an interview with Naomi Campbell for her web show No Filter with Naomi, Goldberg talked about the whole experience.
My daughter and I had been driving somewhere in Berkley and we heard Alice Walker reading The Color Purple on NPR, and my daughter and I pulled the car over to listen, because it was so extraordinary hearing her.
Her in her voice,
Whoopi Goldberg wrote a letter to Alice Walker.
The Color Purple moved Whoopi Goldberg away so much that she wrote Alice Walker a letter to tell her the amount of impact it had affected her. Even more, moving was the response Goldberg got when she went to New York for her one-woman show.
There was a letter waiting for me saying, ‘Dear Whoopi, Already know about you. I live in San Francisco. I’ve been to all your shows. I know what you do. I’ve already seen your stuff.’
Goldberg and her mother were both shocked and couldn’t control their emotions.
Alice Walker wished to have Whoopi Goldberg to be in “The Color Purple”
Even though The Color Purple hadn’t been made into a movie yet, Walker was all game with how the book was proceeding, and Goldberg wanted to be on board, too.
I’ll play the dirt on the floor,
Goldberg told Walker.
I didn’t even know what I meant when I was writing it. I don’t think I understood what I was saying,
I didn’t know anything about movies; I only knew about being on the stage.
Steven Spielberg did, in fact, want to see Goldberg for an audition. She flew to the studio where he was working in California and put on a special show of her one-woman show. Big names in the business, like Michael Jackson, were there to witness it. Spielberg gave Goldberg the part of Celie right away after seeing her take on E.T.