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Black Is King Director Blitz Bazawule to Direct The Color Purple Musical Film

Blitz Bazawule speaks onstage at SCAD aTVfest 2020 “Cherish The Day” Press Junket on Feb. 27 in Atlanta.
Blitz Bazawule speaks onstage at SCAD aTVfest 2020 “Cherish The Day” Press Junket on Feb. 27 in Atlanta.
Photo: Marcus Ingram/Getty Images for SCAD aTVfest 2020 (Getty Images)

Samuel “Blitz” Bazawule is booked and busy.

Naturally, having your name in the directing credits of Beyoncé’s Black Is King automatically increases your profile to astronomical levels, causing everyone to want to work with you. Well, Blitz already has an upcoming huge project in the works and it’s a beloved classic.

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According to Deadline, he will be directing a musical film for The Color Purple. The film will be based on the Broadway musical adaptation of Alice Walker’s 1982 novel and Marcus Gardley will be penning the script.

Deadline notes:

The story depicts the lives of African American families and relationships in early twentieth-century Georgia. The musical, featuring jazz, ragtime, gospel, blues and African rhythms, has a book by Marsha Norman with music by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray.

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“We were all blown away by Blitz’s unique vision as a director and look forward to seeing how he brings the next evolution of this beloved story to life,” Oprah Winfrey, who co-starred in Steven Spielberg’s 1985 film adaptation, told Deadline.

People Magazine also reports:

Spielberg is producing Bazawule’s musical alongside Winfrey. His film adaptation went on to be nominated for 11 Oscars and earned Winfrey a Support Actress nomination.

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.

Blitz’s 2019 The Burial of Kojo was acquired by Ava DuVernay’s ARRAY in February 2019. The 2018 film followed Esi (Cynthia Dankwa) as she embarked on a magical journey to rescue her father who was trapped in a mine shaft. I previously interviewed Blitz about the importance of providing Black girls with agency and autonomy as a filmmaker, especially since a little girl was essentially the hero of his film (which of course, applies to Celie in The Color Purple).

“It all revolves around the stories I grew up hearing and maybe those were [influenced by] my grandmother talking about herself,” Blitz told The Root. “She was always centered and little Black girls were always centered. They had a knowing that people seldom had in her stories, but also in real life. We know that’s where real intuition lies. Society ends up beating it out of young girls and when they become women, it’s harder to assert that.”

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The Burial of Kojo poster ; Blitz Bazawule and Tonja Stidhum
The Burial of Kojo poster ; Blitz Bazawule and Tonja Stidhum
Photo: Tonja Stidhum; ARRAY

Though this is great news for Blitz, it does have to be noted that it would be great for a Black woman to be able to be at the helm of a story originally crafted by a Black woman and from the perspective of a Black woman character—especially a queer Black woman director.

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Next up is awaiting casting news. Landing the role of Celie will be a pretty big deal for any actress, especially for someone who is new on the scene. We’ll keep you posted on that, as well as any release date news.

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Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.

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