Oprah Shuts Down Rumors of Tension With ‘The Color Purple’ Star Taraji P. Henson

Winfrey says she's been "the greatest champion" behind 'The Color Purple.'

Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images for CinemaCon

Oprah Winfrey has put all rumors of a feud with Taraji P. Henson to rest once and for all.

During the 81st Golden Globe Awards on Sunday, Winfrey, 69, chatted with Entertainment Tonight about her involvement as a producer on The Color Purple, clarifying that she stepped in to support the cast. Throughout the film's rollout, Henson and fellow TCP actress Danielle Brooks alleged facing mistreatment and accused production of subpar standards.

"I would just like to say about this whole Taraji thing [...] I heard I was trending yesterday," Winfrey told ET correspondent Kevin Frazier. "People are saying that I was not supporting Taraji. Taraji will tell you herself that I've been the greatest champion of this film. Championing not only the behind-the-scenes production but also everything that everybody needed. So whenever I heard that there was something that someone needed, I'm not in charge of the budget because that's Warner Brothers you know that's the way the studio system works."

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Winfrey continued, "We as producers, everybody gets their salary. Everybody is negotiated by your team. And so, whenever I heard there was an issue or there was a problem... with cars or the problem with their food, I would step in and do whatever I could to make it right. And I believe that she would even vouch for that and say that is true."

The media mogul and former talk show host also addressed posing with Henson on top of the Empire State Building in December, as some found their body language to be awkward during the encounter.


Oprah Winfrey and The Color Purple stars at the @Empire State Building 🥰💜 #oprahwinfrey #esb #empirestatebuilding #oprah #winfrey #thecolorpurple #purple #nyc #newyork

♬ original sound - New York Mickey

Winfrey was producer on TCP, having played Sofia in the original 1985 film. Henson, who plays Shug Avery in the musical drama, acknowledged Winfrey as a "solid beacon of light" in an Instagram post ahead of the film's Dec. 25 release. At the time, Henson had gone viral for her comments on experiencing pay inequity and being undervalued as a Black actress.

"Ms. OPRAH has been nothing less than a steady and solid beacon of light to ALL OF THE CAST of The Color Purple!!!" Henson captioned her post. "She has provided ENCOURAGEMENT, GUIDANCE and UNWAVERING SUPPORT to us all."

Henson added, "She told me personally to reach out to her for ANYTHING I needed, and I did! It took ONE CALL… ONE CONVERSATION… and ONE DECISION MAKING BLACK WOMAN to make me feel heard."

In a Q&A session for TCP on Friday, Brooks thanked Winfrey for "correcting" on set conditions, as the cast allegedly wasn't provided with food or dressing rooms from the production team.

Danielle Brookes talking about how they didn't have their own dressing rooms or food until Oprah called Taraji pic.twitter.com/4pwXLL4bk4

— Maddie's Green Reading Dress (@PoeticJusticeK) January 6, 2024
Twitter: @PoeticJusticeK

Henson also told The New York Times that the cast was initially asked to drive to set, which she fought back on.

“They gave us rental cars, and I was like, ‘I can’t drive myself to set in Atlanta.’ This is insurance liability, it’s dangerous. Now they robbing people,” she told the publication. “What do I look like, taking myself to work by myself in a rental car? So I was like, ‘Can I get a driver or security to take me?’ I’m not asking for the moon. They’re like, ‘Well, if we do it for you, we got to do it for everybody.’”

She continued, “Well, do it for everybody! It’s stuff like that, stuff I shouldn’t have to fight for,” she said. “I was on the set of ‘Empire’ fighting for trailers that wasn’t infested with bugs.”

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