Fantasia Barrino went all in for her role as Celie in the highly anticipated reprise of The Color Purple, set to debut Dec. 25.
In her new “Power of Women” cover story with Variety, the Broadway actress revealed that she would not allow a stunt double to fill in for her intense fight scenes with Colman Domingo, who plays Celie’s abusive husband, Mister, in the forthcoming film.
Barrino, 39, took the actor’s punches, using the experience as a tool to confront her past with violence, trauma and sexual abuse.
“I could let go of every man that’s ever put his hands on me. I freed myself from that,” the Broadway star told Variety.
The actress has been open about her struggles with abuse.
Barrino has spoken candidly about her trials and tribulations on her climb to stardom. In her New York Times bestselling memoir, Life Is Not a Fairytale, the Grammy Award-winning singer detailed the alleged physical abuse she endured at the hands of her daughter’s father.
In 2010, the Season 3 American Idol winner was hospitalized after she overdosed on Aspirin and sleeping pills, an incident that could have ended her life and career. Barrino revealed that the pressures of stardom and supporting her family came crashing down on her all at once. At the time, her house was in foreclosure. She was also battling a $10 million libel suit filed by her father, who accused her of portraying him as a “money-hungry parent” in her memoir.
“I just wanted the noise to stop,” the star told Variety.
While recovering in the hospital, the actress recalled meeting a nurse who empowered her to stay “strong” and “fight” back.
“I left that hospital and said, ‘I’ll never do that again because I have purpose,'” she continued. “I’m going to speak into every young person’s life and tell them, ‘Don’t you dare give up. I don’t care if it gets ugly again. I don’t care if there’s storms. I realized I have the spirit of an eagle. They fly over storms.”
Barrino played Celie in the Broadway rendition of The Color Purple in 2007, but carrying the weight of Celie’s pain amid her trauma became unbearable at times, so much so that she vowed never to reprise her role as the beloved character.
Looking back on her prickly past, Barrino is thankful she said yes when director Blitz Bazawule asked her to be a part of the film. Portraying Celie forced her to heal some of her emotional wounds.
“I’m grateful that I did not allow those voices in my head to hold me back from stepping into this woman’s shoes,” she said.
Barrino thanked her mother, Diane Barrino, and her late grandmother, Apostle Addie Collins, for teaching her the importance of perseverance.
“I watched them fall, and I watched them get back up,” the singer added. “They never quit. A lot of that is embedded in me. It’s in my blood. It’s in my DNA.”
Barrino will appear alongside a star-studded cast when The Color Purple hits theaters in December. Halle Bailey plays the role of Nettie, Celie’s younger sister. Actress Taraji P. Henson will shine as sassy jazz singer Shug Avery, and Danielle Brooks will debut as Sophia. Louis Gossett Jr., Corey Hawkins, David Alan Grier, Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor, H.E.R., Ciara, Jon Batiste and Deon Cole will also appear in the forthcoming movie.
Watch the trailer below.
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