Danielle Brooks has proved her acting chops several times over but her portrayal of Mahalia Jackson in the Kenny Leon-directed Lifetime biopic “Mahalia” should establish her among the greats. After playing Sofia in The Color Purple on Broadway (earning a Tony nomination), and Taystee in Netflix’s breakaway hit, “Orange Is the New Black,” Brooks is gearing up to head in a totally different direction with a new project that will showcase her in an action role and there are even talks of her hosting a show.
Rolling out sat down with Brooks immediately following the premiere of “Mahalia” to discuss the lessons she took from the character and how Jackson’s example of perseverance, faith and sisterhood created a blueprint that Brooks uses for her own life.
Many people consider Mahalia Jackson as this larger-than-life gospel icon, but this movie showed her human side. Did you know much about her before this project?
I remember hearing about her when I was about 7 or 8 but as I got older I would hear that I resembled her or people would compare me to her. But I got the opportunity to really get to know who she is as a woman during this process and that was special to me. You see that she struggled with her relationships, not being able to have children and so many things and yet she [was] so strong and resilient.
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