For Colored Girls is an adaptation of Ntozake Shange’s award nominated play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf. Originally a choreopoem, the movie has a cast of eight women of color and follows along the original work’s lyrical structure. The focus of the film is how such weighty topics such as the betrayal of infidelity, abandonment, rape, abortion and love affect women, but especially those of color.
Interested by the gravity of the subject matter in this story, I wanted to take a closer look at the women of this riveting film as the film’s success will rely solely on the power of their performances.
This is a woman that needs no introduction. Famous singing icon and well known for her roles in movies, Janet Jackson seems to be a favorite of Tyler Perry. She has appeared in other films by the talented writer/producer, most recently as Patricia in Why Did I Get Married Too? Not afraid to bare her soul to the camera, Janet Jackson is capable of giving both a heart and gut wrenching performance. She never shies away from the giving an audience the truth of the harsh reality of what naked pain really looks like. She plays Jo, Lady in Red.
Loretta Devine is a familiar face in Hollywood. She usually portrays sweet yet feisty characters and plays a loving mother to tee. She has a diminutive voice but a big presence, and is no stranger to singing her heart out in the movies she is cast in. Hilarious as Chris Rock’s grieving mother in Death at a Funeral, she also has the ability to bring the drama to a role, and is no stranger to Tyler Perry movies. She plays Jaunita, Lady in Green.
Best known for playing Clair Huxtable, Bill Cosby’s wife, Phylicia Rashad is very convincing as an authority figure with a level head. She always seems to be well grounded and practical, with great endurance for whatever life throws at her. She has a quiet strength that always resonates in volumes on film without having to even say a word. It’s no doubt that whatever she brings to the role of Gilda can only be a good thing.
Whoopi Goldberg is an Oscar winner, Golden Globe winner, Grammy winner, Emmy winner, a Tony winner, winner of a few more awards, and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She made her first film appearance in The Color Purple, an unforgettable role about an abused black woman of the south who triumphs in the end. She played a very memorable and endearing psychic in Ghost opposite Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze, and it is here that she won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Fans have loved her in the Sister Act films, The Lion King, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Girl, Interrupted and most recently Toy Story 3. Funny, soulful, playful and genius, Whoopi Goldberg is one amazing actress of great longevity. She plays the role of Alice, Lady in White.
Kimberly Elise has worked alongside Denzel Washington, Patrick Dempsey, Liev Schreiber, as well as with Tyler Perry in Diary of a Mad Black Woman. She is a versatile actress of great depth and manages to embody strength and determination with a fortitude imbued with feminine grace. Her eyes alone can convey pain, fury, disappointment and joy to such an extent that the audience is never in doubt as to what her character is going through. She is Crystal, the Lady in Brown.
Anika Noni Rose
You may remember her face in the film Dreamgirls, but it is her voice that will most likely ring a bell. She lent her talented vocal stylings to the Princess Tiana in the Disney fairy tale movie The Princess and the Frog. She’s had roles in notable TV shows like The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency and The Good Wife and Third Watch. Despite being only a tiny 5’2”, her voice is larger than life, and both kids and adults caught themselves singing along with this Tony Award winning actress in her role for Disney. She plays Yasmine, the Lady in Yellow.
Tessa Thompson is a young actress still in her twenties. She is the daughter of singer-songwriter Marc Anthony Thompson of the band Chocolate Genius, and granddaughter of Bobby Ramos, the Latin Tom Cruise. She has a long list of TV credits to her name, and you’ve most likely seen her in one of these weekly hit TV shows over the years. The list includes Veronica Mars, Cold Case, Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice and the wildly popular Heroes. She has braved the theater stage and was nominated for an award for her role as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet: Antebellum New Orleans 1836. Her film debut was in the horror remake When a Stranger Calls in 2006 and now she finds herself in a Tyler Perry film. Thompson takes on the role of Nyla, the Lady in Purple.
Thandie Newton is one cool actress well known for working in major blockbusters like Interview with the Vampire and Mission Impossible II, Guy Ritchie films, Oprah Winfrey productions like Beloved, and the Oscar winning film Crash. Working with Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Will Smith, and Gerard Butler is a walk in the park for Newton. She is a highly recognizable and extremely versatile actress who can take on any and all roles. Be it diva, demon child, globe trotting thief, Newton is a chameleon and has the ability to completely take on a character and become the character wholeheartedly. She has an uncanny aptitude of depicting both strength and fragility at the same time with ease. She makes it easy to suspend one’s disbelief and makes every role she portrays believable. Thandie Newton is Tangie, Lady in Orange.
Finally we have Kerry Washington, a woman capable of imbuing each role with such great sensitivity and vulnerability that it is difficult not to feel empathy for the characters she portrays. She is quoted as saying that revealing the truth and the humanity in a character is what is important to her, and the truth in that is hard to deny. She has a long list of acting credits to her name and has worked with some of the most talented artists of our time; Forest Whitaker in The Last King of Scotland, Angelina Jolie in Mr. & Mrs. Smith, and Spike Lee in his film She Hates Me. In Tyler Perry’s film For Colored Girls, Washington plays Kelly, the Blue Lady.
The subject matter that Tyler Perry is exploring in this film is not easy to experience either in life or in art form. These are matters that exist and as human beings, there is a need to explore them. Perry’s casting choices will make all the difference in how For Colored Girls is perceived and whether or not it is embraced or reviled.