Explaining that she is still working on the Blitz Bazawule-directed film adaptation of the Broadway musical for eight more days, the 2004 “American Idol” winner shared that her castmates, family and friends made a “special birthday video” for her and invited her close friend, Grammy winner Le’Andria Johnson, to visit her on set.
In the video posted to Fantasia’s page, Johnson sneaks in behind a crew member and begins singing a soulful rendition of “Happy Birthday” for her close friend. The birthday girl is instantly overwhelmed and tears up as Johnson sings to her before the two embrace warmly at the end of her song.
“I am still on set filming ‘The Color Purple’ Musical Movie Adaptation for 8 more work days and this by far was the BEST & most needed birthday surprise, my sis @leandriaj,” Fantasia captioned the video post. “My cast mates, family, friends and the entire Color Purple cast made a special birthday video for me (Coming Soon). This here gave me the push I needed to finish this journey as Celie once again.”
She added, “I have put in blood, sweat and tears for this role with a lot of long nights, early mornings, sacrifices and pushing myself to new limits. I can’t wait for the world to see this Fantasia. I want to thank everyone for the birthday wishes, gifts, calls, texts, posts, videos, etc. A special thanks to my amazing team. 💜💜💜 I LOVE ALL OF YOU! 💜💜💜 LeLe I Looooove you to the moon and back. One of my Favorite Sangers.”
Fantasia’s comments were filled with fans and friends wishing her a happy birthday, including co-star Taraji P. Henson, “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” star Kandi Burruss, Robert Glasper and Da Brat. Grammy winner Jazmine Sullivan also showed the Broadway actress some love, sharing well wishes for her special day and adding that she “can’t wait to see u kill this role.”
Fantasia reprises the role of Celie, which she first portrayed in her Broadway debut in 2007. Danielle Brooks stars alongside her as Sofia, with a star-studded cast that includes Henson as Shug Avery, Domingo as Mister, Mpasi as Young Celie, Corey Hawkins as Harpo, H.E.R. as Squeak, Louis Gossett Jr. as Ol’ Mister, David Alan Grier as Reverend Avery, Tamela J. Mann as First Lady, Halle Bailey as Young Nettie, Ciara as Adult Nettie, Deon Cole as Alfonso and Stephen Hill as Buster.
Back in April, ET spoke with Fantasia about diving back into the story of Celie and Sofia and admitted she came close to shutting the door on the opportunity. And her experience — personally and professionally — during her time on the Broadway musical from 2006 to 2007 was almost to blame.
“My life at that time was all over the place,” Fantasia said about playing Celie for nearly nine months on stage. “So, carrying Celie’s weight and my weight was not fun. And I remember saying in interviews and radio stations when they would ask me, I said, ‘Well, I did it, but I’ll never do it again.”
Enter Scott Sanders, one of “The Color Purple” producers who called Fantasia about the role, but she already had her answer prepared.
“‘I can’t go back, I can’t do that again, Scott’” Fantasia recalled telling Sanders. “And he says, ‘Listen, I know where you are in your life right now. I see that you’re married. I’m so proud of you and I’m so happy. But, there’s no one else that can do this. We need you to do this.”
Suffice it to say, Fantasia, who won a Theatre World Award for her Broadway performance, is now glad she came on board.
“It’s going to be absolutely amazing,” she said. “I’m glad that I didn’t allow that door to close. I talked it over with my whole entire family and everybody kept saying, ‘I think you should do it.’”
Being on the set of “The Color Purple”, slated for release in 2023, has also triggered a roller coaster of emotions.
“It’s been hard on set, it’s been funny on set, it’s been emotional on set, it’s been cold, it’s been hot,” she said. “I will say this too — some of the places that we are filming has been heavy, because literally we have slave homes that have been there for years behind us. We can feel our ancestors. So, it’s heavy. But it also reminds us that they paved the way for us. It also reminds us how far — to be an all-Black cast — we want to push the heavens for our ancestors and for our generation today.”
“The Color Purple” is set to come out on Dec. 20, 2023.
MORE FROM ET: