Danielle Brooks is having one of the most significant moments in her career, playing Sofia in “The Color Purple.” It’s a role that she portrayed on Broadway and received her first Tony nomination — but it wasn’t easy for the critically-acclaimed performer to get here.
As the spirited and no-nonsense wife to Harpo (Corey Hawkins), Brooks’ Sofia is positioned as the hopeful and joyous anchor in a narrative that, at times, carries a thematic weight, craving moments of levity. Brooks achieves this with aplomb in sequences like “Hell No,” reminiscent of the impactful “Cell Block Tango” from the best picture-winning musical “Chicago,” which showcased the goods of future supporting actress winner Catherine Zeta-Jones.
On this episode of the award-winning Variety Awards Circuit Podcast, Brooks talks about landing the role once portrayed by Oprah Winfrey in the 1985 version. She also talks about the lessons she learned after not being cast in the film adaptation of “The Piano Lesson” and what we can expect from her upcoming movie “Mindhunter.” Listen below:
Brooks’ acclaim is being noticed by critics, most recently scoring a Golden Globe and Critics Choice nomination for best supporting actress. That could next lead Brooks to her first Academy Awards ceremony.
Brooks says she’s trying to allow herself to receive the outpouring of love from people who praise her performance. “I’ve done personal work on myself to understand that I am truly worthy of these things that are coming my way,” she says. “And not only that I’m worthy, but that most it ain’t got nothing to do with me. It has to do with the growth of someone else, and their journey.”
Netflix announced the film adaptation of August Wilson’s acclaimed play “The Piano Lesson,” to be directed by Malcolm Washington, in April 2023. Many of the Broadway revivals cast members — John David Washington and Samuel L. Jackson — are set to reprise their roles. However, the role of Berneice, a 35-year-old mother who symbolizes the guardians of her ancestor’s past, will be played by “Till” star Danielle Deadwyler. To be clear, there is no ill will or anamocity coming from Brooks, in fact, she is championing her colleague, and even makes an Oscar prediction for Deadwyler in 2025.
Despite praise on Broadway, Brooks was one of the Tony Awards snubs from the past year. This allowed the 34-year-old star to speak candidly about her journey encapsulated in one phrase: “What’s for you, is never going to miss you.”
“That’s where a lot of my person work had begun,” she says. “I didn’t get Tony-nominated for it, but I was excited about the list because they were all first-time nominees on new material. But that one, is where you have to learn how to navigate Hollywood, and learn that you validating yourself is more important than anyone else’s.”
Brooks has learned an important and valuable lesson: “Sometimes your ‘no’s’ [received in the business] – it truly ain’t goit nothing to do with you,” she says. “There is a path for all of us. I took the ‘L’ on it because God said, ‘I got something special for you too, but you’re going to have to be patient and wait. I’ve never left you in your career. I haven’t left you when you didn’t get Emmy nominated for “Orange is the New Black.”‘ I’m Emmy-nominated now for ‘Instant Dream Home’ as a host. He’s showing me to trust the process.”
Also on this episode, “The Iron Claw” actor Holt McCallany talks about playing the legendary wrestler Fritz Von Ehrich in Sean Durkin’s powerful new drama. He discusses coming to peace with many of his scenes that were cut from the film, and what we can expect from his upcoming directorial effort after getting script notes from David Fincher.
A quintessential “that guy” performer in the eyes of most audience members, this veteran character actor boasts over 80 credits in a three-decade career, including turns in “Nightmare Alley” and Netflix’s “Mindhunter.” As the hardened patriarch of a family of pro wrestlers in A24’s sports drama, McCallany exudes an intense and thorny power, expertly revealing the dangers of a particular form of pressurized ambition. It’s a performance that’s reminiscent of J.K. Simmons Oscar-winning turn as the abusive music teacher in “Whiplash.”
Meanwhile, this episode kicks off with the Awards Circuit Roundtable, with the team paying tribute to the late André Braugher and discussing the recent Golden Globes nominations.
Variety’s “Awards Circuit” podcast, produced by Michael Schneider, is your one-stop listen for lively conversations about the best in film and television. Each week “Awards Circuit” features interviews with top film and TV talent and creatives; discussions and debates about awards races and industry headlines; and much more. Subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify or anywhere you download podcasts. New episodes post weekly.