Danielle Brooks 'Had to Work Hard' to Get Cast in 'Color Purple' Movie Despite Playing Role on Broadway

“I really had to work hard to get the part, believe it or not,” the actress exclusively tells PEOPLE on the red carpet at the 75th annual Tony Awards

Danielle Brooks
Photo: ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty; Matthew Murphy

Danielle Brooks wasn't necessarily at an advantage when it came to getting cast in The Color Purple.

The actress — who was nominated for a Tony Award for her performance as Sofia in the musical's 2015 Broadway revival — will reprise her performance in the upcoming big-screen adaptation alongside Fantasia Barrino. But she tells PEOPLE that the part wasn't simply offered to her.

"It's a dream come true, one that I hoped and prayed [for]," she tells PEOPLE on the red carpet at the 75th annual Tony Awards.

"I knew they were doing it, and I really had to work hard to get the part, believe it or not. They had me auditioning for several months, like going into a lot of meetings with the director."

75th Annual Tony Awards - Arrivals
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty

She adds that "a lot of time had passed" since she played the role on Broadway in 2015 alongside Cynthia Erivo and Jennifer Hudson.

Being part of the film, which will be produced by Oprah Winfrey, is "a big torch that Oprah was passing onto me," she says. "But it's passed on now, baby!"

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Winfrey made her film debut as Sofia in the 1985 Steven Spielberg-directed movie adaptation of Alice Walker's novel.

The movie musical will also star Taraji P. Henson as Shug Avery as well as Corey Hawkins and H.E.R.

"It's a great cast. It was a great cast then [on Broadway], and it's a phenomenal cast now," says Brooks, 32. "I feel like it's so different going from theater to TV to movies, anyway, but I'm just glad I'm still in the number."

Marcus Gardley has written the screenplay for the film, specifically adapted from the Tony-winning Broadway musical based on Alice Walker's 1982 novel. The musical ran from 2005 to 2008, with a revival that ran from 2015 through early 2017.

Beyoncé's Black Is King co-director, Blitz Bazawule, will be at the helm, according to Deadline. Winfrey, 68, told the outlet in August 2020, "We were all blown away by Blitz's unique vision as a director and look forward to seeing how he brings the next evolution of this beloved story to life."

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Winfrey will produce The Color Purple alongside Steven Spielberg. It is slated for a Dec. 20, 2023, release.

The story of The Color Purple follows the lives of several Black women in the American South in the 1930s.

The original Broadway musical of the story debuted in 2005 and earned 11 Tony Award nominations a year later, with actress LaChanze winning a Tony for her role as Celie.

Erivo played the role of Celie in the 2015 revival, for which she won the Tony Award for lead actress in a musical.

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