I must confess I had never heard of Oprah Winfrey before she appeared in the role of Sofia in the 1985 film version of Alice Walker’s novel The Color Purple. It was a difficult and demanding part, and I remember being impressed with the power of her portrayal. Roger Ebert called Oprah’s Sofia an “indomitable force of nature.” I also recall learning that Oprah’s own experience had prepared her, in some way, for the role.
Since that time, Oprah has become one of the most influential people in America. Her book club successfully encouraged people to read serious books. She lives in the neighborhood where the church I serve is located, and people around here compare notes on occasional Oprah sightings. I actually met her once when she very graciously attended a reception for her friend Maya Angelou, who was speaking at our church’s Arts Festival.