Multiple Grammy-winning singer Jon Batiste will make his feature acting debut with The Color Purple movie musical. The upcoming Warner Bros project is the feature adaptation of author Alice Walker’s iconic novel, as well as the Oscar-nominated 1985 film from Steven Spielberg and Tony Award-winning Broadway musical that it inspired.
The story revolves around a woman named Celie Harris, to be played by newcomer Fantasia Barrino, and tracks her life-long struggles as an African American woman living in the South during the early 1900s.
According to Variety, Batiste will essay the role of Grady, husband to Taraji P. Henson’s Shug Avery. His character is a debonair, sweet-talking piano man who is “the epitome of charm and eloquence”.
The film’s cast also includes Danielle Brooks as Sofia, Colman Domingo as Mister, Corey Hawkins as Harpo, H.E.R. as Squeak, Halle Bailey as Young Nettie, Ciara as Nettie, Elizabeth Marvel as Miss Millie, David Alan Grier as Reverend Avery, Tamala J. Mann as First Lady, Phylicia Pearl Mpasi as Young Celie and Oscar nominee Aunjanue Ellis as Mama, mother to Celie and Nettie.
Blitz Bazawule, the filmmaker behind Beyonce’s video Black Is King, is set to direct the modern take on the musical. Media mogul Oprah Winfrey, who made her feature acting debut in Spielberg’s The Color Purple and earned an Oscar nomination, is producing via her Harpo Films banner with Spielberg under his Amblin Entertainment.
Scott Sanders and Quincy Jones, both of whom were behind the Broadway musical, will also produce. Batiste recently had a big night at the 2022 Grammy Awards where he picked up five trophies, including album of the year for We Are.
In 2020, the musician won the best original score prize for Disney-Pixar’s Soul, an honor he shared with fellow composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.