If Not for Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey's Success Story Would Be Different

Today she earns millions, and 38 years ago Spielberg gave her a chance

by Sededin Dedovic
If Not for Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey's Success Story Would Be Different
© Roy Rochlin / Getty Images

In the realm of entertainment, Oprah Winfrey stands as a towering figure, her name synonymous with success and influence. The extraordinary trajectory of her career has taken her from humble beginnings to the pinnacles of fame and fortune.

Today, she commands millions of dollars, not merely through her name, but also through the sprawling business empire she meticulously built over the years. However, the Oprah we know today is a far cry from the budding talent of yesteryears.

It was in 1985 that Oprah Winfrey received a fateful opportunity that would forever change the course of her life. That year, she secured a role in Steven Spielberg's highly anticipated film, "The Color Purple." The film, an adaptation of Alice Walker's iconic novel, left an indelible mark on its audiences, sparking both applause and tears.

Oprah's portrayal in the movie was a revelation, and she gave life to the character of Sofia, earning a modest paycheck of $35,000 for her efforts. In hindsight, Oprah has often declared that this relatively meager sum was, in fact, the most valuable money she had ever earned.

Her journey was launched, her destiny irrevocably altered by the experience of embodying Sofia. This role became etched in the collective memory of all who witnessed it, much like the masterful performance of the legendary Oprah herself.

Now, in a full-circle moment, Oprah Winfrey has decided to extend her creative reach and revisit "The Color Purple," this time in the form of a musical. Her decision to transform Alice Walker's groundbreaking work into a musical is an exciting development in the entertainment world.

It demonstrates her enduring commitment to storytelling and her dedication to bringing powerful narratives to new audiences through various artistic mediums.

Oprah Winfrey: God taught me to surrender, and that was a great lesson for me

While everything appeared to be on track for the musical's realization earlier this year, an unexpected hiccup arose.

Hollywood was hit by a strike that threw a wrench into the gears of the industry, leading to significant delays in the project. Nevertheless, Oprah and the entire cast, a stellar lineup featuring the likes of Daniel Brooks, Taraji P.

Henson, and Fantasia Barrino, convened for a "round table" discussion aimed at sharing the details of the musical with the eager public. This gathering of talents and creative minds promises an unforgettable experience for theatergoers and fans of the original story.

During this enlightening interview, Daniel Brooks took a moment to express her heartfelt gratitude towards Oprah. She acknowledged that Oprah's iconic portrayal of Sofia in 1985 had been a profound source of inspiration for her to step into the same role herself.

In her own rendition, Brooks found the creative space to breathe life into the character, while also recognizing the invaluable guidance and wisdom that Oprah was always willing to offer when needed.
"I can't even describe to you what all this means to me - for a person who wanted nothing more in life than to act in "The Color Purple".

God taught me to surrender, and that was a great lesson for me. They only offered me $35,000 for my role in the movie, and it ended up being the best $35,000 I ever made. That experience changed everything and taught me a lot. I feel that it is God who is moving through my life" - Oprah Winfrey was clear