Oprah Winfrey Packs A Revolutionary Punch In New Acting Role

Oprah Winfrey goes by many different personas: talk show host, television mogul, magazine publisher, and actor. Soon she’ll be taking on the persona of civil rights hero, in a new film role currently under production.

Winfrey will play Annie Lee Cooper in Selma, a bio pic about Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 1965 civil rights campaign.

When Annie Lee Cooper passed away in 2010 at the age of 100, The Selma Times-Journal called her a civil rights legend. She is known for her confrontation with Sheriff James G. Clark. After waiting in line for hours to vote, Clark told her to go home. According to Cooper, Clark began poking her in the back of the neck with a club or cattle prod. She promptly clocked him in the jaw with her fist, and he fell to the ground.

John Lewis, future member of Congress, said the instigation was not a mere poke. He said at the time, “Clark whacked her so hard we could hear the sound several rows back.”

Cooper was charged with assault and attempted murder and spent 11 hours in jail before sheriffs released her. They apparently feared for her safety if Clark should come back to where she was held.

Oprah Winfrey is also a producer of the Selma film, along with Brad Pitt and the film’s director Ava DuVernay among others. It is sure to be a plum project for relatively young director DuVernay, who made her feature film debut in 2008. In 2012 she was the first African-American woman to win the Best Director Prize at the Sundance Film Festival for Middle of Nowhere.

Oprah spoke to Entertainment Tonight about the significance of this role — and the film — to her and to her mentor Maya Angelou. Angelou passed away in May but she and Winfrey discussed the Selma project. Said Oprah:

“She was so proud that I was doing this movie. And she said, ‘Take it baby. Take it all the way. Take it all the way.’ She was a part of the movement, worked with Martin Luther King, understood what we were trying to do with this film.”

Winfrey is not known for her acting so much as her promotion of authors and ideas through her network of media outlets. Many have forgotten she won an Academy Award in 1985 for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her turn in the Spielberg pic The Color Purple.

The New York Daily News states that as of now Winfrey’s latest acting venture has no release date.

[Image: Oprah.com]

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