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Felicia Fields is a veteran of the Chicago theatre scene. She was nominated for a Tony Award for her portrayal of Sofia in The Color Purple musical during its initial Broadway run. Since The Color Purple musical came to Los Angeles in early December, the musical has with out a doubt been one of the most sought after tickets in town. One of the main reasons is thanks to the unforgettable stage performance of Sophia played by the illustrious Felicia P. Fields.
Fields performance also earned her a 2006 Theatre World Award, a Clarence Derwent Award, two Broadway.com Awards and she was a 2006 Drama League honoree. Fields has worked throughout the Chicago land area and has nominations for her performances in Jammin’ With Pops (Ella Fitzgerald), Hot Mikado (Katisha), Show Boat (Queenie), Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Ma Rainey), Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Nell/Amelia) and Dreamgirls (Effie Melody White), to name a few. Fields stellar performance in Chicago’s Drury Lane production of Sophisticated Ladies earned her the Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Actress in a Musical.
(Sentinel) So tell me, how did you get involved with The Color Purple project?
(FF) When I was in Chicago, I worked with Garry Griffin who is the director (Color Purple). I had done several productions with him and at the time we were doing a production of Carousel, where I was playing Netty Fowler. Well during the dress rehearsal for that, I looked at a mirror as I was walking into the theatre and I said, “I look like Oprah Winfrey in The Color Purple”. And I walked on stage and said, “You told Harpo to beat me” (laughs), and Gary Griffin hollered out, “if I every do the musical The Color Purple I know who to call for Sophia”. And several months later he called and said, “Are you sitting down” and I said, “No why”, and he said, “I have just been commissioned to direct The Color Purple” and I said, “You are lying to me”?! That’s how I got the job.
(Sentinel) Tell me a little about the character Sophia and what you personally brought to the role?
(FF) The character Sophia is very tuff, no nonsense, takes ownership of life, very self-confident and a resilient character. She has her own opinions and nobody and nothing can change that. You either get on her program or you aint on no program (laughs). She’s a very self-confident person and there is not a lot of difference between the two of us. My mother keeps saying they pay me to be myself. So I am pretty much an individual that is not working hard at being who this character is.
(Sentinel) Which scene is your favorite?
(FF) My favorite scene as an actress is the jail scene because I don’t have to do nothing (laughs). Now one thing I do have to do is sit there and be bloody. I do enjoy the scene at the end when Harpo and I come back together and because I am a large girl a lot of people don’t expect some of the movements that I do. So I get a chance to be a little sexy. I love the opening church scene because it gets the adrenaline going but it also gives me insight to what kind of audience we have. I’m in the dressing room and I can here what we are dealing with from the beginning because you got stanch gospel people that know the realistic part of church. You can hear that.
(Sentinel) As far as your character is concerned, what do you think people can take home when they experience your performance on stage?
(FF) I hope they can take home the honesty of the performance. I have been hit before and I did not go back. You know, I am a person who is vocal and no nonsense when I’m challenged. I am a person that is a people lover. I love people and I love to expound upon life and I love my self regardless of what other people in the world are saying. We come from a society where physically they talk you out of the mold that they see you should be in. So you have to know, that you know, that what is in here (points to the heart), is the most important thing because as God is my witness all of this will pass away from your good legs, to your big butt, to your big chest. It is the truth and it is also the message in Sophia and Harpo’s journey because he leaves Sophia and Sophia’s a big girl and he goes to the little cutie and even with her he turns his life around and comes back to the unobvious because nothing can change the honesty of love and people that love superficially find out it never last. That’s the kind of love you want that when physical passes the heart will sustain.
(Sentinel) Overall, why should people come and experience The Color Purple?
(FF) First of all you should check it out because it is historical in terms of African American history. And it is a piece we can be proud of because it is not only a piece geared toward African Americans, but it’s only done as African Americans. And it will tap into any emotion that you have and hopefully you will be proud of how it is depicted. It is one piece that I know of that you don’t have to be black. You don’t have to be white, you don’t have to be Hispanic, you don’t have to be a man and you don’t have to be a woman. When you walk out of there, something in your life you have experienced will be reflected on that stage.