Entertainment Movies Taraji P. Henson to Star in 'The Color Purple' Movie Musical as Shug Avery In The Color Purple movie musical, Taraji P. Henson will take on the role of Shug Avery, first played on the big screen in 1985 by Margaret Avery By Jen Juneau Jen Juneau Twitter Jen Juneau is a digital news writer for PEOPLE since 2016. People Editorial Guidelines Published on February 1, 2022 03:31 PM Share Tweet Pin Email Trending Videos Taraji P. Henson. Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images Taraji P. Henson is bringing the character of Shug Avery to life once again. The 51-year-old actress is set to step into the role first played on the big screen by Margaret Avery in 1985's The Color Purple, in the upcoming new musical film version from Warner Bros., directed by Blitz Bazawule. Variety reports that Marcus Gardley has written the screenplay for the film, specifically adapted from the Tony-winning Broadway musical — which was based Alice Walker's 1982 novel — that ran from 2005 to 2008, with a revival that ran from 2015 through early 2017. According to Variety, Steven Spielberg, who directed the 1985 film, will produce the new version alongside Oprah Winfrey, who made her big-screen debut as Sofia in the first movie. The outlet reports that The Color Purple will be released on Dec. 20, 2023. Henson — who will be joined by Corey Hawkins and H.E.R. in the cast — shared the news of her casting on her social media accounts, retweeting and posting several stories about it. 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. Margaret Avery as Shug Avery in The Color Purple (1985). Warner Bros/Kobal/Shutterstock See Taraji P. Henson as Miss Hannigan for NBC's Annie Live!: "Playing the Villain Is Always Fun" 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. Cynthia Erivo also played the role of Celie in the 2015 revival, for which she won the Tony Award for lead actress in a musical. Alongside Winfrey, 68, and Avery, 77, Spielberg's film adaptation also starred Whoopi Goldberg and Danny Glover. It was nominated for 11 Academy Awards, and earned Winfrey a Best Supporting Actress nod. RELATED VIDEO: The Color Purple Cast Surprises Superfan Henson has recent experience in musical theater, having played Miss Hannigan for NBC's Annie Live! in December. The Oscar and Emmy nominee told PEOPLE in October of embodying the crooked head of an orphanage, "Playing the villain is always fun. ... With Miss Hannigan, there is so much to work with and dig deeper into. It's just such a fun and iconic character to play." As for the live element, the Empire alum was mostly unfazed. "There's always some butterflies when it comes to doing live events, but that's part of the fun," Henson said. "My roots are in theater, so it's just a great opportunity to jump back into what I grew up doing and it's also a challenge, which I find exciting." She added, "As an artist, nerves and nervousness is natural. You need that energy: It means you are alive and in the moment. I welcome nervousness because that is energy to use. It is not a bad thing."