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aunjanue ellis

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Oscar-nominated actress Aunjanue Ellis is the latest big name added to the star-studded cast of The Color Purple’s upcoming musical film adaptation.

Ellis will play Mama, the mother of Celie and Nettie. The character symbolizes “the embodiment of The Great Ancestor” and the source of her daughters’ strength, according to Shadow and Act.

As MADAMENOIRE previously reported, Ciara will play the older version of Nettie and Halle Bailey is set to play the younger role.

Fantasia Barrino will star as older Celie and in mid-March, the Warner Bros. production cast Phylicia Pearl Mpasi as the younger Celie, Tamela J. Mann as First Lady, Deon Cole as Alfanso and Stephen Hill as Buster.

Other performers enlisted to star in the upcoming adaptation of Alice Walker’s 1982 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel include Taraji P. Henson, Danielle Brooks, H.E.R., Alan Grier and more.

Ellis’ success in Hollywood has grown substantially since she starred in King Richard last year alongside Will Smith. 

In a recent interview, the actress shared how working with Smith on the biopic drama’s set was a masterclass of sorts.

“What surprised me most about him was the first day that I went into rehearsal with him, he had Post-It notes of every scene broken down of the entire movie… I just thought, ‘He doesn’t have to do that,'” Ellis told PEOPLE of Smith. “It just shows his level of commitment even at this stage of his career. I was so impressed by that.”

“The other thing that I loved about him and the experience of working with him is that it’s an education in how to be a great superstar, how to be a great movie star… With him, it’s really an education in how to be a great man,” she said, adding, “That’s not celebrated enough.”

The Color Purple is expected to be in theaters in December 2023.

RELATED CONTENT: “Aunjanue Ellis Credits Will Smith For Negotiating Better Pay For ‘King Richard’ Cast”


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