Danielle Brooks - The Influence of "The Color Purple"

April 25, 2016 - Danielle Brooks 04/25/2016 Views: 3,186

Actress Danielle Brooks discusses her role in the Broadway adaptation of "The Color Purple" and the range of characters she has portrayed in her career. (5:33)

Watch Full Episode

Please welcome Danielle Brooks.

-♪ -(cheering, applause)


Thank you, thank you.

What a lovely audienceyou have. Mm!

So much love.

This is... I-I mean,I'm so used to seeing you

in prison overalls.

I know.No makeup, no hair.

This is so...You clean up well, girl.

-Thank you, darling, thank you.-This is just like...

I'm-I'm so used... No, justlike, whoa, you look beautiful.

-Beautiful.-(cheering, applause)

-Thank you. -Thank youso much for being here.

-Thank you.-I, uh, I spent weeks,

I mean, when we startedthe show, I spent weeks

just being like, "I just wantto get one joke into the show

-where I can do a 'Taystee!'"-Hey!

-Hey! Hey!-Yes, yes!

Thank you so...I'm such a huge fan of yours.

-Insane. -Obviously, Orange is the New Black.

-I got to see The Color Purple. -Thank you.

You are on an amazing trajectory

-right now.-Thank you.

-Are you enjoying every moment?-I am.

I am taking it all in.

I feel so incredibly blessed

to have two major jobs.

Three, Angry Birds included.

-I just feel so grateful thatI get to do it all. -(laughter)

-I know. I'm in Angry Birds, too. Am I bragging? -Yeah.

-Does that sound braggy? -That'simpressive. -That's, uh...

that's really impressive.

'Cause, I mean, it's...You-you see...

you can see the rolesbeing formed, you know,

in-in playing a-a powerful womanin prison fighting the odds

and playing a powerful womanfighting against segregation

-and playing a powerful birdfighting pigs. -Bird. Chicken.

-Still though, still, still,you can see that. -Yes.

-You're diversifying, whichis nice. -Yes, very diverse

-in the roles that I choose.-Which... Yeah. Which...

-Let-Let's talk about The Color Purple for a second. -Yes.

I mean, honestly,one of the most amazing stories.

-Thank you. -You know,you are powerful onstage.

I didn't knowyou could sing like that.

-Thanks. Yeah. -And-and you wereinspired by the story

when you went to watch it,what is it, 11 years ago?

Yes. Ten, 11 years ago,my father

took me to seemy first Broadway show.

We had gotten a free ticketto New York,

um, 'cause I had donethis internship,

And he was like,"You want to come to a show?"

I said yes.And it was The Color Purple.

-Wow. -And so I remember sittingin the audience just like this,

15 years old, just cryin'.

And my dad was with me.

My dad's a big dude,

and the seats at theatersare pretty small.

So he was, like, not having it.

He was like,"This is not working for me."

So he stood after intermissionin the back.

-Wait, he stood for the rest ofthe show? -He stood for the rest

of the show. And I was like,"Whatever. You go do you,

'cause I'm so immersedin this story."

And it really has changedmy life.

It-it, um, made me wantto go study for it.

-So I ended up going to schoolin New York for theater. -Wow.

And then ten years later,here I am.

And so... but I made sure, whenmy dad came to opening night,

that I got him a seaton the, um... on the edge,

so that he can stretchhis feet out

-and enjoy himself. -That issweet. -(cheering and applause)

-Just so that he wouldn't haveto squeeze in. -Right.

So he could be comfortable.

I've always been fascinatedby the fact

that you have a showpredominantly black

-in the audience, which youdon't see on Broadway. -Yeah.

But you also have people thatare chiming in the entire time.

How do you keep your focus?

-'Cause there are peoplein the audience, -Yes.

you'll-you'll say something,you'll be like,

"There's only one answer,and it's Jesus,"

and someone will shout,"It's Jesus! Girl, that's right!

-You turn to Jesus!"How do you... -Oh, yes.

-how do you stop yourselffrom... -It's very hard

to navigate.It really is challenging.

-Being on a Broadway stage isa very difficult thing. -Yeah.

Two and a half hours,you're just focused.

And it's really hardto stay focused

when you have audience members,like, in the middle

of "Hell No!" screaming"hell no" back

or on their phones or, like...

But it's... sometimesit's fueling. It's like, "Yeah!

Hell no!" And it makes me reallyget into character even more,

'cause I knowthat people are supporting me

and they're right alongwith me on the story. But...

There-there is one... there'sone point where I thought

the audience would have joinedin the mob beating up the man.

Like, there was a pointwhere you're like,

-"Oh, we're-we're fighting.We're fighting! -I know.

-We're fighting! We're doingthis." -We're going to war!

-Yeah. Um, it's-it'sa beautiful production. -Yes.

-Orange is the New Black, you're still working on. -Yeah.

-Still working on it.-It is still amazing.

Thank you.June 17, it comes out.

-Season four. It's gonna be...-We're waiting.

-We're gonna be watching.-Yes. I really think

-it's the best season.-Is it ever...

is it ever weird for youthat people

are Netflix and chilling to you?Do you ever think about that?

Ooh! That's so gross!

-No, I've never thoughtabout that! -Well, now you will.

-Now you will. I...-Thank you, Trevor.

-Now I've just thrown that in.-Put that in my head.

Yeah. The next time...next time you're doing a scene,

you can think about that.And Angry Birds--

-let's talk about Angry Birds. That is so amazing. -Yes.

It's my first animated filmthat I'm doing.

-That is so amazing.Congratulations. -Yeah. Thanks.

That's... And you play...

I play a crossing guard!

-(laughing): Very proud.-(cheering and applause)

But, no, like, my characteractually has a lot more

to the story. I don't wantto spoil it, and I've been told

not to spoil it. But sheis pretty crucial to the story.

-So it's been pretty fun.-Of the three major roles

you've played, which onehas been the most challenging

-for you?-(laughter)

-Angry Birds. -By far.

By far. By far.

I mean, to be so invested

in every vocal... range.


Um, I'm making that up.

-That was me trying to makea joke. Um... -You were gonna...

you-you were gonna win a Tonyfor that. I could see.

You were like... you were like,"This is..." You're like,

"No, no, I'll save it. I'll saveit for The Color Purple."

It's really fun to have youhere. Thank you so much

-for joining us, Danielle.-Thank you for having me.

The Color Purple, currently on Broadway.

-Danielle Brooks, everybody!-(cheering and applause)

All Shows