Youngstown Native to Appear in Remake of ‘The Color Purple’

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Youngstown native Lindsay Renea Benton will appear in a dance scene in the movie musical “The Color Purple,” which will premiere Christmas Day in theaters.

Directed by Blitz Bazawule, the Warner Bros. Pictures release stars Fantasia Barrino, Halle Berry and Taraji P. Henson. It’s based on the famed Alice Walker novel but is a sharp departure from the original 1985 film version, which was a more somber drama.

In the upcoming film’s official trailer, which was released last week, Benton can be seen briefly – but front and center – in the opening dance scene. The dancer, who now lives in Atlanta, said she was happily surprised to see herself so prominently on the trailer.

Her dance scenes were shot in 2022 on Jekyll Island, Georgia. The entire film was shot at various locations in Georgia. Benton has not yet seen the film.

“The Color Purple” takes place in the American South between 1909 and 1947. It follows the life of a young woman named Celie who leads a life of abuse at the hands of her father and husband.

Benton’s dance scene is set in Africa, where Celie’s sister is living. She is in only one scene in the movie but is the lead dancer.

The producers of “The Color Purple” include Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg and Quincy Jones.

With those Hollywood heavyweights, a star-laden cast, a landmark story and a Christmas Day release date, the film will likely draw the attention of Oscar voters.

Benton points out that it is brighter and different in tone than the 1985 film, which was directed by Spielberg.

The upcoming remake is “uplifting,” Benton said. “It’s nothing like the first movie.”

Benton, a professional dancer, choreographer and educator who operated a dance school in Youngstown a few years ago, is no stranger to film work.

She appeared as a dancer in the 2021 movie “Coming 2 America,” starring Eddie Murphy, and was a choreographer for the opening of the 2022 World Games in Birmingham, Alabama.

She landed her part in “The Color Purple” after the same casting agency that worked on “Coming 2 America” invited her to audition.

“The audition process had several rounds,” Benton said. The film features a large cast of dancers.

“It’s relatively rare for a movie to hire so many dancers,” she pointed out.

The dancer said he is excited about the film, adding she’s been getting messages from her friends in the Mahoning Valley expressing how proud of her they are and how it’s positive publicity for her hometown.

“All of the city has been extremely supportive,” she said.

Benton hopes to present a screening or other event based on the movie in Youngstown when the film is released.

The dancer earned her bachelor’s degree at Howard University and a master’s degree in dance and choreography from Jacksonville State University. She began her professional career in 2008 with the Garth Fagan Dance company in New York.

Her mother, Debórah Benton, is the producer and host of “The Valley Gold Show,” which airs on a Youngstown television station.

Pictured at top: Lindsay Renea Benton, front and center, in a scene from the upcoming film “The Color Purple.”

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