Halle Bailey Cast as Nettie in 'The Color Purple' as Producer Oprah Winfrey Praises Her 'Strength'

"The memory of her, the feeling of her ... comes through, even when you're only hearing her voice from her letters," Oprah Winfrey praised Halle Bailey

Halle Bailey
Halle Bailey. Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty

Halle Bailey has her next movie musical lined up!

The Little Mermaid actress and Chloe x Halle singer, 21, has been tapped to portray Nettie in The Color Purple, the upcoming film adaptation of Alice Walker's 1982 novel, based on the Broadway musical of the same name.

Of Bailey's casting, producer Oprah Winfrey (who made her film debut as Sofia in the 1985 movie version directed by Steven Spielberg) told Vanity Fair, "She's somebody whose presence you can feel in her absence."

"The memory of her, the feeling of her, the strength of her comes through, even when you're only hearing her voice from her letters," added Winfrey, 68.

Bailey joins a star-studded cast including Danielle Brooks as Sofia and Taraji P. Henson as Shug Avery. Fantasia Barrino will lead as Celie, reprising the role from her previous Broadway run. The film will also feature H.E.R. and Corey Hawkins.

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human-interest stories.

Taraji p. Henson; Fantasia Barrino; Danielle Brooks
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images; Kevin Winter/Getty Images; Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

Winfrey was part of several casting announcements Thursday night on Soul of a Nation, where she revealed Barrino, 37, would play Celie and Brooks would portray Sofia — a role which the latter previously received a Tony Award nomination for after starring in the show's 2015 Broadway revival.

Brooks, 32, found her breakout onscreen role as Tasha "Taystee" Jefferson in 2013 with Netflix's Orange Is the New Black, and she can currently be seen starring alongside John Cena in HBO Max's Peacemaker.

Brooks recalled the moment she found out about her casting as Sofia. "They were saying, 'Danielle, you have one more meeting with the director Blitz [Bazawule],' and then, all of a sudden, this beautiful Black women in purple comes up on the screen and it's Miss Oprah Winfrey," she recounted.

"I am here, representing all things purple to tell you, you are our Sofia," Winfrey told her in a clip from the call, during which Brooks was overjoyed.

RELATED VIDEO: The Color Purple Cast Surprises Superfan

The story of The Color Purple follows the lives of several Black women — namely Celie and Nettie Harris, Shug Avery and Miss Millie — 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.

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

Winfrey will produce The Color Purple alongside Spielberg, 75, and it will be helmed by Beyoncé's Black Is King co-director Bazawule, 39. The film is slated for release on Dec. 20, 2023.

Related Articles