“The reason I said yes to this role is because of the magnificence of Annie Lee Cooper,” TV titan says about the real-life Civil Rights activist she portrays
It took more than just pleas from “Selma” director Ava DuVernay to convince Oprah Winfrey to join the film’s cast. In fact, the TV mogul and actress said it was a story about the real-life Civil Rights activist she portrays that finally persuaded her to change her mind.
In a previous interview with TheWrap, DuVernay revealed Winfrey “did not want to do it” and had to be asked several times.
Winfrey explained in an E! video why she finally came around: “The reason I said yes to this role is because of the magnificence of Annie Lee Cooper,” she said. “And what her courage meant to an entire movement.”
In the film, Cooper’s voting registration is denied. She joins the tense marches alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (David Oyelowo) demanding voting rights for blacks in 1965 Alabama. In an incident Cooper is known for, she defends a fellow marcher by punching Selma Sheriff Jim Clark in the jaw.
“Having people look at you and not see you as a human being — she just got tired of it,” Winfrey said of Cooper. “You cannot know where you’re going unless you know where you’ve been.”
Something else that concerned Winfrey was getting physical in yet another role; in 1985, she portrayed the hardened Sofia, who lands in jail after slugging the town’s mayor, in the “The Color Purple.”