All Articles Tagged "oprah"

Queen Sugar Helping Oprah Explore Her Sensual Side

August 28th, 2016 - By Toya Sharee
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queen sugar sex scenes

Stedman might want to get the Marvin Gaye and Chardonnay ready. In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Ms. Winfrey revealed that sex scenes being shot for the upcoming OWN show Queen Sugar are hot and heavy and she’s taking notes.

Creator Ava Duvernay explains that she normally shoots scenes in a very prudish, restrained way, with more focus on the before and after than the actual “during”:

“I try to show what happens before and after and around, because I think that’s sexier.”

Whatever Duvernay is doing, Winfrey says it’s working and she talked about exactly what happened when she and friend Gayle King watched the first few episodes of the show:

“Her sex scenes look damn sexy.”

“You want to be that person. It hits a sensual nerve. He is unhooking her bra, and you’re like, woah! I’m like, ‘I’m going to get Stedman [Graham] to unhook my bra and see what happens. Put your hand in my panty hose and let’s see what happens.’”

Winfrey also spoke of one particular scene where Charley Bordelon West played by Dawn-Lyen Gardner has an intimate moment with her husband Davis West played by Timon Kyle Durrett poolside overlooking the city of Los Angeles. The scene involves Durrett picking Gardner up from the sofa effortlessly, a scene that took a considerable amount of tweaking on Duvernay’s part:

“We did that scene five times,” she explains. “I said, ‘I want this to be effortless, like she is as light as a feather.’”

Her attention to detail was clearly appreciated by King, whom Winfrey recalls saying, “God, I wish somebody would pick me up like that,” to which Winfrey joked about Stedman, “He’d probably hurt his back and fall into the pool. And that would ruin the scene.”

OK, so maybe Stedman should get the Chardonnay and Bengay ready. Either way if the scenes from Queen Sugar have Oprah ready to give Stedman a little something sweet, we’re completely here for the show which has a two-night premiere on September 6 and 7.

Bet You Didn’t Know: Secrets Behind The Making Of Lee Daniels’ The Butler

August 24th, 2016 - By Nneka Samuel
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The Butler poster

He’s very much into television these days as both Empire and the upcoming Star suggest, but three years ago, writer and director Lee Daniels released his fourth film as director, The Butler. It is loosely based on the life of Eugene Allen, a Virginia native turned Washington, D.C. transplant who served in the White House as a butler for more than three decades. The film was a favorite among critics and filmgoers alike. Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker starred as Cecil Gaines, a married father and White House butler who experiences a total of eight presidencies, up close and personal. The civil rights movement, wars, riots, presidential history – Gaines had a front-row seat for every major political or social event. But that’s not all you need to know about the movie or its characters. Here are some secrets behind the making of Lee Daniels’ The Butler.

Oprah And Ava Cover Hollywood Reporter Talk Black Art In The Black Lives Matter Movement

August 17th, 2016 - By Veronica Wells
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Source: Hollywood Reporter

Source: Hollywood Reporter

Oprah and Ava are quite the dynamic duo. One has been powerful and influencing for decades. And the other is new on the scene, coming up as one of the chosen ones who will follow in her footsteps. The two, who’ve teamed up to produce OWN’s new series “Queen Sugar,” sat down to talk about inclusion—not diversity—in their projects and content. They also talked about their roles and responsibilities as Black artists in the time of #BlackLivesMatter movement.

Check out some of the highlights from the interview below.

In “Queen Sugar” there’s a character that would have been perfect for Oprah. Auntie Vi. But Oprah said that since “Greenleaf” was completed first, she went over that way. Plus Auntie Vi would have required too much.

WINFREY Nuh-uh! There’s not room, nor time. I think my role on Greenleaf is going to be it for me for a while. I’m working on Henrietta Lacks [at HBO] and other things coming up. It’s funny, because Gayle [King] saw the first episode of Sugar, and she goes, “How come you didn’t play Aunt Vi?” Originally, I was going to. Then Greenleaf got done first.

DUVERNAY And Aunt Vi is in every episode. When you run a billion-dollar empire, you might not want to be a series regular.

Wrinkle in Time and Ava making history as the first Black woman to helm a $100 million live action movie and whether or not it affects her process.

DUVERNAY It doesn’t figure into my storytelling. The way I tell a story is the same at $100-plus million as it was for my first movie [I Will Follow], which was $50,000. I have more tools to do it and more planks to build the house now, but ultimately if the story is not solid, it doesn’t matter how much money you have. So the headlines don’t really impact what I’m doing in the room as I work with actors and my collaborators.

Is the pressure with being the first?

DUVERNAY “Pressure” is the wrong word. I’m in a space where I’m able to do the things that I want to do and the start of that was doing it on my own and working independently without permission. Even though I have more folks, more money and more infrastructure around me now, I made a decision [long ago] to work from a place of protecting my own voice by collaborating with people who nurture and value that — and not trying to spend my time knocking on doors that were closed to me, begging people for things that put me at a disadvantage because they had it and I didn’t.

Are there doors still closed to you?

DUVERNAY No, no one’s going to stop me from doing what I want to do; I just have to figure out a way to do it that might not be the easy route that my counterparts who don’t look like me and identify as I do have. They have a bit of an easier time of it, an easier road, but it doesn’t mean I can’t do it. It may just take me a bit. Part of the challenge that I find when I enter these conversations with journalists is that [you’ve] thought about it in a way that society thinks about it: “the plight of the woman filmmaker,” “the plight of the black artist,” “the plight of whoever is on the outside.” But if you receive it and treat it as a plight, that starts to manifest in you and your work, and it affects your creativity.

As black artists, what responsibility do you feel to include the challenges facing the black community in your storytelling?
DUVERNAY You see integration of Black Lives Matter from the beginning of [Queen Sugar] because it is literally black lives having meaning and mattering in the everyday. With the Black Lives Matter movement, a lot of the focus is on the protest and dissent. I’m hoping to dismantle the public notion — for folks outside of the community — of what Black Lives Matter means. It’s really about saying that black lives matter, that humanity is the same when you go inside people’s homes.
WINFREY Everybody gets caught up in the slogan and the hashtag and the protest. What we’re trying to do is get you to feel it. You get to feel it when Ralph Angel [Kofi Siriboe] is putting his son to bed, laying with him and reading a story. Intimacy and connection between a father and son? We’ve just not seen it [with black characters on series TV].

Can black stories accurately be told by people who aren’t black?

DUVERNAY Artists should be free to create what we want. I believe there’s a special value in work that is a reflection of oneself as opposed to interpretation. When I see a film or a TV show about black people not written by someone who’s black, it’s an interpretation of that life.

WINFREY I think it depends upon your level of experience.

You can read the full interview over at Hollywood Reporter.  Queen Sugar premieres Sept 6 on OWN.

Veronica Wells is the culture editor for She is also the author of the recently released book “Bettah Days.”

No, It’s You: OWN Cancels Tyrese And Rev Run’s It’s Not You, It’s Men

August 2nd, 2016 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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After eight episodes of thought-provoking conversations about love, sex, marriage and more, Tyrese Gibson and Rev Run’s OWN talk show, It’s Not You, It’s Men will not be returning for a second season. The show, which featured all sorts of celebrity guests giving their two cents on important sex and relationship issues (Amber Rose’s slut-shaming conversation with the hosts, as well as Loni Love and Jessimae Peluso schooling them about gender roles may have been the most notable chats), premiered on January 23. Tyrese took to Instagram last night to share his disappointment about the cancellation. He also shared the advice given to him by Winfrey in the wake of the show getting the ax before stating that he would like to try and take the series to a streaming network.

#SHOWCANCELED It breaks my heart to post this.. the #OWN Network has decided to pass on SEASON 2 of our show… ( #watch this full clip the link is in my Instagram bio )…… Message to one of my biggest inspirations mother Oprah Winfrey and team.. Honestly as much as I want to be mad and disappointed, I can’t be because you believed in us enough to give us a shot. A shot that you could of given to anyone…… We were inspired to have a moment to finally spark a #mature dialogue and put some positivity on the air and not another RATCHET show throwing drinks, fighting and taking things into ratchet levels for ratings….. THAT WOULD OF BEEN EASY RIGHT….? With love in my heart and pure determination I say this…. On behalf of myself and my best friend and mentor, REV RUN…  Thank you to all of the fans who rocked with us and tuned in….. Dammit! Let me see if I can get the CHAIRMAN and CEO of NETFLIX, Spotify, Amazon other networks that are all needing content. /. on LINE 1… #ItsNotYouItsMEN will live on! Oprah gave some some strong advise that I will hold onto as we look for our new home……. “Think like a KING, a KING is not afraid to fail. Failure is another steppingstone to greatness.” -Oprah ………………….. ( what was your favorite episodes? What did you take away? What heated debates did you and your crew have after each show? Comment below!

A video posted by TYRESE (@tyrese) on

The show was a spinoff of sorts of Tyrese and Rev Run’s book, Manology: Secrets of Your Man’s Mind Revealed. And while some of the conversations about what it takes to be a “feminine” woman turned me off, the show, based on the disappointed reaction seen through comments on Tyrese’s Instagram page, had amassed quite a few fans.

Did you tune into the program? If so, will you miss it?

Why My 30s Are Better Than My 20s

August 2nd, 2016 - By Alyssa Rachelle
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Source: Shutterstock

Whenever I have friends who are approaching their 30th birthday, I quickly say with conviction, “Your 30s are much better than your 20s.” It’s true, for me at least, as I would never go back to my 20s. Don’t get me wrong, I had fun. But I’m enjoying my time even more now that I’m approaching my mid-30s.

Even the queen herself, Oprah Winfrey, said that aging is a blessing. She stated in a Lifeclass video that every year should be teaching us all something valuable. “I know that only by owning — own it — who and what you are can you start to step in the fullness of life.”

All too often, women dread their imminent 30th year on this earth. According to The Huffington Post, women do not look forward to turning 30 due to regrets about not accomplishing dreams or assuming their “glory days” are over. But really, as long as you’re still kicking, your glory days are upon you.

While I’ve never had an issue with aging, after turning 30 I learned a few things about myself that ultimately enhanced my livelihood. I’m sure many of you can relate.

I Embraced All of Me

In middle school, I wanted my mom’s slender, feminine legs. While in high school, I was hesitant to lift weights for sports I took part in due to fear that my already broad shoulders would become masculine. In college, I wanted to gain weight.

I always loved the way I looked, but I often found faults in my image. As I got older, I truly embraced all of myself. I now look in the mirror and appreciate my features.

Psychologist Deborah Serani, PsyD, told Psych Central that the key to self-compassion is to understand that weakness and frailty are part of the human experience. “Coming to accept who you are involves loving yourself because of your flaws, not in spite of them,” she said.

Dr. Seuss may have said it best: “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”

I Learned Not to Care What People Think

There was a time when I tried to please everyone, whether it was through the type of clothing that I wore or my career choice. Eventually, I gave that up and started living for myself. There were some decisions that I’ve made that have been unconventional, yet they were perfect for me. And to this day, I have no regrets.

I admit that I started to have this mentality during my mid-20s, but at the age of 30, something clicked and I truly gave up on second-guessing myself. I didn’t care what people thought. I started living my life.

In his post for Psychology Today, psychiatrist Fredric Neuman, M.D., mentioned that people will find some reason to disapprove of what you do, regardless of who you are or what you do. “It is important not to measure yourself by the standards of other people,” Neuman wrote.

I’m Wiser

Besides becoming more financially responsible and truly pursuing my passions, I decided to cut out the foolishness. When I found myself losing focus when it came to what I needed to accomplish, I knew that I had to let a few friends and a few bad habits go, or at least keep certain people at an arm’s length.

One of my favorite books is The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino. It contains a passage that speaks volumes. “I am a lion and I refuse to talk, to walk, to sleep with the sheep. I will hear not those who weep and complain, for their disease is contagious. Let them join the sheep. The slaughterhouse of failure is not my destiny.”


With all that being said, don’t dread getting older. Don’t sulk when your birthday comes back around. Don’t feel like you need to hide your age.  Instead, embrace it gracefully. Learn your lessons and appreciate the blessings. When you start feeling down about getting older, just remember, someone didn’t have the chance to.

Renée Elise Goldsberry Will Play Henrietta Lacks In New Oprah-Produced Film

July 26th, 2016 - By Veronica Wells
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Source: AP Images

Source: AP Images

Renée Elise Goldsberry’s career is white hot right now. After an astoundingly successful run on the smash Broadway hit Hamilton (for which she won a Tony), the Goldsberry is reportedly participating in a Netflix sic-drama series called “Altered Carbon.” But that’s not all. According to Shadow and Act, she will also take on the role of the late Henrietta Lacks in the HBO adaptation of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

The 2010 non-fiction book, written by Rebecca Skloot was optioned by Oprah’s Harpo Films the year it was published. And Oprah is set to play Lacks’ daughter Deborah in present day.

Goldsberry will likely portray Lacks in flashbacks as the HBO adaptation will chronicle her daughter’s search to learn more about her mother and to understand how the unauthorized harvesting of her cells in 1951 led to medical breakthroughs.

For those who haven’t read the phenomenal book, it recounts the story, from first hand sources, of Henrietta Lacks, a poor, Black woman from Baltimore who died from cervical cancer in 1951, at the age of 31. Lacks’ cells were removed from her body and used by doctors at Johns Hopkins University.

The study and manipulation of Lacks’ cells would lead to a cure for polio, breakthrough in AIDS medication, cancer research and much more. Her cells were also the first to be cloned in 1955.

George C. Wolfe will direct the film adaptation and Henrietta Lacks’ family members, including her sons Zakariyya Rahman, David Lacks Jr., and her granddaughter Jeri Lacks will serve as consultants for the adaptation. It will be produced by Harpo Films.

As of now, there is no release date. But we’ll be sure to keep you posted.

Watch! The Extended Trailer For “Queen Sugar” Is Here

July 20th, 2016 - By Veronica Wells
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Watch The Extended Trailer for Queen Sugar

Source: OWN

Last month, OWN released the first trailer for their new series, “Queen Sugar.” Not only was it beautifully shot. Thanks Ava! The story, based on Natalie Baszile’s novel seems intriguing. As a recap, the book follows Charley Bordelon, who lives in Los Angeles but relocates to Louisiana after her father’s death.

The series though, will place Nova in the position of the protagonist.

The series, according to OWN’s YouTube page, chronicles the lives of the estranged sisters Nova and Charley. After the death of their father, the family must run an ailing sugarcane farm in Saint Josephine, Louisiana.

DuVernay served as the director for the first two episodes and all subsequent ones will be led by other women. DuVernay, Melissa Carter and Oprah Winfrey serve as executive producers.

The series will air in the Fall.

Watch The First “Queen Sugar” Trailer

June 23rd, 2016 - By Veronica Wells
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Queen Sugar Trailer

Source: Facebook/OWN

We’ve been talking about the arrival of “Queen Sugar” for over a year now. And while it’s not exactly here yet, the time for its premiere is nearing.

Just yesterday, via their Facebook page, OWN dropped the series’ first trailer. For those who’ve missed the news about it, “Queen Sugar” is inspired by Natalie Baszile’s novel, bearing the same name. It follows the life of Charley Bordelon, who lives a privileged life in Los Angeles. But things change after her father’s death in Louisiana, forcing her to move there with her child.

But the series is going to flip a few things on its head. Instead of Charley being the main character, her sister Nova takes center stage. Retina Wesley, best known for her role as Tara in “True Blood,” will take on the lead role. While Dawn-Lyen Gardner will portray Charley.

Check out the trailer for the new show below.

From this brief clip, it would seem that Ava, Oprah and OWN just might have another hit on their hands this Fall.

Who Run The World? The Highlights From The United States Of Women Summit

June 15th, 2016 - By Veronica Wells
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The Highlights From The United States Of Women Summit

Source: AP Images

Yesterday, in our nation’s capital, women took center stage as the White House hosted their first ever United States of Women Summit. Women like senior advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett, actress Amy Poehler, actress Kerry Washington, Oprah and so many more converged at the summit to speak about everything women.

There were so many highlights from the all day event. And the White House even posted a video of the entire thing. But since many of us are at work and don’t have all that extra time, here are a few of the highlights.

First, our little favorite Mikaila Ulmer, the 11-year-old founder of “Me & the Bees Lemonade” spoke about dreams and entrepreneurship before she introduced President Obama. She offered a bit of advice for all of us. “Only a kid would think you could change the world with a lemonade stand…My advice to anyone who’s looking to start a business, Be Fearless, believe in the impossible and dream like a kid.”

When President Obama took the podium, he commended Mikaila saying:

“I was just told backstage, when she was asked to introduce me, there were some folks who were organizing this amazing event that said, is she going to feel a little nervous speaking in front of 5,000 people?  And so they asked her and she said, oh, no, I just spoke to 11,000 last week.  (Laughter and applause.)  So we were looking backstage — she was on her tippy-toes with her entrepreneurial self.  (Laughter.)”

The little girl is not only a bawse, she’s an inspiration.

As for President Obama, he started by letting the room know where he stands. “I may be a little grayer than I was eight years ago, but this is what a feminist looks like.” speaking about one of the most recent milestones in his life, watching his eldest daughter Malia Obama graduate from high school.

“Some of you may know that on Friday, my older daughter Malia graduated from high school.  (Applause.)  And I sat in the back and wore dark glasses.  (Laughter.)  And only cried once, but it was — I made this weird sound because I was choking back — (makes crying sound) — (laughter) — and people looked at me, people sitting in front of us turned back.  And then I suppressed it.  (Laughter.)  But I was thinking about how she is graduating at this extraordinary time for women in America.”

He went on to list the road we’ve traveled and how far we’ve come, including women’s college enrollment, the availability of birth control and how his Affordable Care Act has made birth control free. But he also talked about the progress we have yet to make, saying:

“We need equal pay for equal work.  (Applause.)  We need paid family and sick leave.  (Applause.)  We need affordable child care.  We’ve got to raise the minimum wage.  (Applause.)  If we’re truly a nation of family values, we wouldn’t put up with the fact that many women can’t even get a paid day off to give birth.  (Applause.)  We should guarantee paid maternity leave and paid paternity leave, too.  That’s how you value families.  (Applause.)  That’s how employers retain great workers.  And it’s good for women — because when childcare falls disproportionately on mothers, as it often does, it makes it that much harder to advance in their careers.”

Then he got to the tougher work of changing our minds.

“We’re going to have to be honest with ourselves.  We’re going to have to change something else.  We’re going to have to change the way we see ourselves.  And this is happening already, but I want us to be more intentional about it.  I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but we’re still boxed in by stereotypes about how men and women should behave.

As the great Shirley Chisholm once said, “The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begin when the doctor says, ‘It’s a girl.’”  (Applause.)  And that has consequences for all of us, whether we’re men or women, black, white, gay, straight, transgender or otherwise.

We need to keep changing the attitude that raises our girls to be demure, and our boys to be assertive; that criticizes our daughters for speaking out, and our sons for shedding a tear.

We need to change the attitude that punishes women for their sexuality but gives men a pat on the back for theirs.  (Applause.)  We need to change an Internet where women are routinely harassed and threatened when they go online.

We need to keep changing the attitude that congratulates men for changing a diaper, stigmatizes full-time dads, penalizes working moms.  (Applause.)
We need to keep changing the attitude that prioritizes being confident, competitive, and ambitious in the workplace — unless you’re a woman.  (Applause.)

He made a point to speak to the girls and women of color.

“We need to keep changing a culture that shines a particularly unforgiving light on women and girls of color.  (Applause.)  About how they look, about how they feel, about what they should or should not do.  (Applause.)  Michelle will talk about this in a little bit.  She’s talked about this.  Despite her extraordinary achievements and success, the fact that she is — she is an American original, she is unique, but she still had times where she’s had doubts, where she’s had to worry whether she was acting the right way or looking the right way, or whether she was being too assertive or too angry.  You remember that?”

I particularly enjoyed the moment where he shouted out Harriet Tubman being placed on the new money and other Black women who’ve shaped our country.

But our country is not just all about the Benjamins — it’s about the Tubmans, too.  (Applause.)  We need all our young people to know that Clara Barton and Lucretia Mott and Sojourner Truth and Eleanor Roosevelt and Dorothy Height, those aren’t just for Women’s History Month.  They’re the authors of our history, women who shaped their destiny.  They need to know that.  (Applause.)

You can watch President Obama’s full speech in the video below.

As President Obama mentioned in the opening remarks of his speech, most of the attendees were there to see Michelle and Oprah. The two women sat down for a nearly 45 minute interview. Oprah started the conversation asking about the importance of loving yourself and the pressure of living up to other’s people’s expectations.

“One of the things that I always tell my mentees, I tell my daughters is that our first job in life as women, I think, is to get to know ourselves. And a lot of times, we don’t do that. We spend our time pleasing, satisfying, looking out into the world to define who we are, listening to the messages, the images, the limited definitions that people have of who we are. And that’s true for women of color, for sure. There’s a limited box that we are put in and if we live by that limited definition, we miss out on a lot of who we are…So for me, I came into this with a pretty clear sense of myself. So when I hear the smack talking from outside the world, it’s easy to sort of brush that off because I know who I am.”

Later she said,

“I knew that I would have to define this role, very uniquely and specifically to me and who I was. So I came in thinking about who I wanted to be in this position and who I needed to be for my girls first of all. You remember, Malia and Sasha were little, itty bitties, when we came into office.  It still moves me to tears to think about the first day I put them in the car, with their secret service agents, to go to their first day of school. And I saw them leaving and I thought, ‘What on earth am I doing to these babies?’ So I knew right then and there my first job was to make sure that they were going to be whole and normal and cared for in the midst of all this craziness. And then I started to understand that if I was going to protect them, I had to number one protect myself and protect my time…One of the things I realized is that if you do not take control of your time and your life, other people will gobble it up.”

When Oprah said she’s never heard men say ‘I just don’t have the time,’ Michelle responded, ‘You know why? Because they don’t have to balance anything. Sorry. I hope that that is changing but so many men don’t have to do it all.”

To that point, later in the conversation Mrs. Obama offered some advice to men: Be better.

“Be better at everything. Be better fathers,” she said during a conversation with one-time talk-show host Oprah Winfrey. “Just being good fathers who love your daughters and are providing a solid example of what it means to be a good man in the world. That is the greatest gift that the men in my life gave to me…”Be engaged. Don’t just think going to work and coming home makes you a man. Be better. Just be better. I could go on, but I’m not. You get the point, fellas.”

She also spoke about the advantage of having good parents but offered some words of encouragement for those who didn’t have them.

“But if you don’t have that parent, that mother, that father, then you got to find it. They’re out there. There is somebody out there who loves you and is waiting to love you. And that means you have to make room for them. And if you’re surrounded by a bunch of low life folks who aren’t supporting you, then there is no room for people that do love you.”

You can watch the full interview in the video below. It’s chock full of gems.

Start Spreading The News: Black Actors Win Big At The 2016 Tony Awards

June 13th, 2016 - By Veronica Wells
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Source: AP Images

Source: AP Images

Last night’s Tony Awards were one for the record books. As expected, Hamilton cleaned up, taking home 11 awards. But the story behind many of the headlines you’ll read today is the history making moment as all four awards for actors and actresses in a musical went to Black men and women.

Check out the list below.

Best featured actor in a musical: Daveed Diggs, Hamilton
Best lead actress in a musical: Cynthia Erivo, The Color Purple
Best actors in a musical: Leslie Odom Jr., Hamilton
Best featured actress in a musical: Renée Elise Goldsberry, Hamilton

Also, The Color Purple was awarded best revival of a musical and Eclipsed won the award for best costume design of a play.

In her memorable acceptance speech, Cynthia who promised not to cry, held up her award and said, “Hi Mommy, look,” before thanking all of the women, and a few men, who made her triumphant Broadway debut possible.

“To Oprah, thank you for giving me this opportunity. I would not be here if it wasn’t for you. For Alice Walker for writing a story that could last through time and time again. Thank you…To every single person in my cast. You are magnificent. Thank you so much for lifting me up when I’m tired, for holding my hands when I’m happy. For kissing me on my forehead when you know I just need some love. Danielle, Jennifer Hudson, Heather Headley, Joaquina Kalukango you are wonderful women and I thank you very much for looking into my eyes every night on stage, for making me a stronger woman on the stage.”

You can watch The Color Purple medley and Cynthia Erivo’s acceptance speech in the videos below.