Oprah Winfrey’s ‘The Color Purple’ Salary Was a Shocking Low $35K

Oprah Winfrey is one of the richest people in the United States. In fact, her net worth estimates to be $3.5 billion. Winfrey has had a long career working in film and television. Some people may know that she played in the movie The Color Purple. How much did she make from the film? 

Who is Oprah Winfrey?

Oprah
Oprah Winfrey | Gonzalo Marroquin/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

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Most people know Winfrey from her talk show The Oprah Winfrey Show. It became the highest-rated talk show in the country, according to Britannica.

After working as a journalist, she was quick to become a famous television personality. She had also got into acting. Some of the movies she starred in were Charlotte’s Web, The Princess and the Frog, and Beloved

Winfrey started to host a book club on-air in the 1990s. She would discuss a book with a group of people. It came to no surprise when the selected book saw an increase in sales soon after. She became very influential in the United States. 

Winfrey has won some awards during her career. Her show earned her some Emmys. In 2018, she received the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the Golden Globes. She had given an inspirational speech that got her trending on Twitter. 

Oprah Winfrey played in ‘The Color Purple’

The Color Purple is a 1985 film, which Steven Spielberg directed. The movie is based on a novel of the same name by Alice Walker. The film was a success upon release, and critics praised the movie. 

The movie is a coming-of-age story about a 14-year-old African American girl named Celie Harris. It focuses on the issues African American women faced during the early 20th century.

The story starts with Celie giving birth to a baby girl, and the viewer watches her grow up and deal with hardships along the way. She eventually is able to get away from her husband toward the end and is later seen in a field of flowers with her sister. 

What role did Oprah play in ‘The Color Purple’?

Oprah Winfrey in 'The Color Purple'
Oprah Winfrey in ‘The Color Purple’ | Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

The Color Purple stars a few well-known names, such as Whoopi Goldberg. Winfrey played the part of Sofia, who is Albert’s son’s fiance in the film. Her character is constantly getting into fights with her husband. 

Despite the film’s success, Winfrey got a surprisingly low salary. She earned only $35,000 for her role in the movie. The reason why she had gotten such a small amount was that she was not a popular actress at the time. Before she became a famous television personality, she was struggling in the acting world. 

Of course, she would be able to earn much more for her roles today. Still, it is interesting to know that such an influential celebrity had made so little on a critically acclaimed movie. 

Oprah was terrified to play in the movie

An interesting fact about Winfrey is that she was afraid to take the part of Sofia in The Color Purple. The Los Angeles Times reports that she was terrified that she was going to get fired. During a Q&A, she mentions that she always had reservations about acting. Winfrey claims that she heard about someone who had gotten fired from another movie when she started filming.  

Oprah revealed: “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. Period.”

During her first scene, she accidentally looked at the camera while saying her lines. Winfrey had done some work on TV prior to the movie, so she got into the habit of staring at the camera. She was quick to learn what to do while on a film set. Yet, she remained intimidated about embarrassing herself and getting fired. 

She said: “My first day on set and I am in the first scene and I walk in and look directly into the camera and say my line. “Cut! Cut!” Steven asked, “Why are looking into the camera?” I had been on TV since I was 19 and that’s what you do. You look at the camera. Anyway, I learned. But I’ve never stopped being intimidated.”

Nervousness is a common feeling when working on set, especially when starting out as an actor. Luckily, Winfrey had nothing to worry about.