Fantasia returns to the role of Celie in The Color Purple film adaption
American Idol season 3 winner, Fantasia Barrino, is gearing up for the release of the film adaption of the Broadway musical, The Color Purple. She played the lead role, Celie on Broadway. Producer Oprah Winfrey hand picked her to step into the role. But the experience was so draining, she initially turned down the movie role. It took director Blitz Bazawule laying out his vision of the film to convince her to sign on.
In an interview with Variety, Fantasia talks about taking on the emotional role, again, surviving an overdose in 2010, and of course, winning American Idol at 19 years old in 2004.
Fantasia shared about a difficult decade after winning American Idol
“When I won. I would never forget,” said the singer about the moment host Ryan Seacrest announced her name as the winner. “I felt like chains had broke. Curses had broke. And I was opening the door for every girl in my family, every woman in my family.”
As the first Black woman to win the title, she became a role model to black girls who saw themselves in her. But at 19 years old she didn’t “know nothing about nothing other than I loved to sing” She added, “I didn’t know all the things that came with it, the pros and the cons. “
Reminiscing on her singular moment in the competition, a showstopping performance of Billie Holiday’s “Summertime,” Fantasia shares that at that moment, she felt that nobody was rooting for her. She was getting criticized online for being a young unwed mom to a toddler.
“There was this bathroom on the second floor where I would go call my mom and we would pray,” Fantasia remembers.
“I needed to be grounded”
Fantasia freaked out the Idol wardrobe department when she took off her shoes for the performance. “I needed to be grounded,” she said. She told the producers, “This is how I used to sing back home.” She doesn’t remember much about that performance, she was so lost in it. “It was just me and God,” she told Variety, beginning to cry. “That moment changed everything. I just went out and showed them who I am — that there was still some good in me, flawed and all.”
The night she won American Idol, her grandmother warned her to “Buckle up. Prepare yourself. Because with all of this comes the storm.”
A difficult decade after winning Idol included an overdose
And indeed, the following 10 years would be difficult for the young singer, suddenly thrust into fame and money. In 2010, Fantasia woke up in a North Carolina hospital with tubes down her throat after overdosing. “I just wanted the noise to stop,” she told Variety. Between supporting her family financially, battling her father in a lawsuit that claimed her memoir portrayed him in a negative light, and her house in foreclosure–it had all become too much.
Fantasia resolved to recover after a nurse in the hospital confronted her with a stack of magazines with her face on the cover. “‘You see that young lady,” the nurse said. “She’s strong. She’s a blessing. Don’t you come back in here no more. You fight.”
“I left that hospital and said, ‘I’ll never do that again, because I have purpose,’” she says. “I’m going to speak into every young person’s life and tell them, ‘Don’t you dare give up.’”
In 2015, Fantasia married Kendall Taylor, who she describes as “my king, my best friend, my homie, my hitta.” The two had a child together in May 2021.
The Color Purple opens in movie theaters on December 25, 2023.