Billionaire Oprah Winfrey Only Managed to Earn $35,000 For Her Oscar-Worthy Work in Steven Spielberg’s Movie

Oprah Winfrey was willing to take any amount just to star in Steven Spielberg's movie.

Billionaire Oprah Winfrey Only Managed to Earn $35,000 For Her Oscar-Worthy Work in Steven Spielberg’s Movie


  • Oprah Winfrey only received $35,000 for her role as Sofia in The Color Purple (1985).
  • The actress believed Steven Spielberg would fire her because she lacked acting skills.
  • The Color Purple gets a new musical movie revival.
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Television host and author Oprah Winfrey did not mind her salary in Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple. She played the role of Sofia in the award-winning 1985 film that would later earn her an Oscar nomination.

oprah winfrey
Oprah Winfrey

The movie was based on the 1982 novel by Alice Walker, focusing on Whoopi Goldberg’s Celie as she faced hardship and discrimination throughout her entire life. Winfrey assumed the role of Celie’s stepdaughter-in-law.

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Oprah Winfrey Badly Wanted To Star In Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple

In her interview with Essence, actress and producer Oprah Winfrey remarked that the salary she earned from Steven Spielberg’s film was worth every cent. The host also revealed how it changed her whole life. She stated:

I can’t even begin to tell you what it means to me—a person who wanted nothing more in my life than to be in ‘The Color Purple.’ And God taught me to surrender—that was the big lesson for me. They were only offering $35,000 to be in this film, and it is the best $35,000 I ever earned. It changed everything and taught me so much. It is God moving through my life.”

oprah winfrey the color purple
Oprah Winfrey in The Color Purple

Interestingly, Winfrey was scared she was going to get fired from the project. She admitted she did not know how to act and that she lacked technical skills. She told the Los Angeles Times:

I was terrified. There was another movie — was it Mask? — where somebody had recently been fired, and it had never occurred to me that you could be fired from a movie. But I did know that if there was anybody who could be fired, it would be me because I didn’t know what I was doing.”

Because of her crippling self-doubt, she was convinced Spielberg regretted her casting. The actress eventually discovered the harsh realities of being in a movie production. Despite so, her perseverance and passion for the project made her overcome fear. Winfrey told Variety:


You know, I always wanted to be an actress. I never wanted anything more in my life than I wanted to be in The Color Purple, and have never allowed myself to want anything as much again.”

Even if they only offered $35,000 for the part, Winfrey took it with gratitude. She would later earn an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Sofia.

RELATED: “If I take the drug, that’s the easy way out”: Oprah Winfrey Fires Back at Critics Shaming Her For “Not Having the Will Power” to Lose Weight

The Color Purple Gets A New Musical Movie Iteration

the color purple 2023
The Color Purple (2023)

Because of the success of Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple, the franchise will receive another revival. Its latest incarnation, however, will not be an exact copy of the 1985 movie but rather a Broadway musical version.


The cast includes Fantasia Barrino as Celie, Danielle Brooks as Sofia, Taraji P. Henson as Shug, H.E.R. as Squeak, Colman Domingo as Mister, Halle Bailey as Young Nettie, Corey Hawkins as Harpo, and Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor as Mama.

Winfrey told Essence about the upcoming musical movie:

To have all of you beautiful Black women bearing witness to the story, as the story moves forward, means so much. I believe that what Fantasia has said is true: Everybody who comes to see our film is going to be touched. They will be moved. And they will be healed. So thank you for the blessing.”

The Color Purple will open in theaters on December 25, 2023.


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Written by Ariane Cruz

Articles Published: 2030

Ariane Cruz, Senior Content Writer. She has been contributing articles for FandomWire since 2021, mostly covering stories about geek pop culture. With a degree in Communication Arts, she has an in-depth knowledge of print and broadcast journalism. Her other works can also be seen on Screen Rant and CBR.