Rolling Out

Why Oscar winner Lou Gossett Jr. doesn’t take ‘The Color Purple’ for granted

Legendary actor reflects on life and career

In the 2023 rendition of The Color Purple, Oscar winner Louis Gossett Jr. plays the mean and cold Ol’ Mister. In real life, “mean” and “cold” are the polar opposite of who the legendary actor is. The 87-year-old — the third Black actor to ever win an Oscar in 1983 — showed up to Atlanta‘s screening of The Color Purple on Dec. 23 at Phipps Plaza as the event’s biggest star. He took the time to stop for every picture and conversation requested of him with a smile.

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Before the screening, rolling out caught up with Gossett Jr.

What is it like to be a part of this legendary production in light of your many accomplishments?

It’s nice to be a part of the crowd. It’s nice for us to be a part of the in-crowd. I’ve been part of the in-crowd now for over 70 years. With Quincy [Jones], Paul Robeson, Lena Horne, Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg.

Finally, asking me to do it and be with this company is a full-circle moment. I’m very blessed. Thank you, Jesus, for including me. Just don’t call me late for dinner.

How often do you get to appreciate moments like this? 

Every single day. Every day I’m grateful to be a part of the in-crowd.

Are there some moments as part of the in-crowd that come to mind?

All of them. They remember my name. They have a seat for me at the dinner table. They give me tickets to the ball games to be with Hank Aaron, Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays, Jim Brown, Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte. What a luxury.

When you think of those guys — the Sidney Poitiers, the Jim Browns, the Hank Aarons — and you look at today’s celebrities, how do today’s celebrities compare in fighting for the betterment of Black people?

One great big beautiful family. It’s only just begun, and I want young people to pay attention. Join this crowd for the benefit of us all.

What is the ultimate Christmas present for you in 2023?

Keep on smiling; keep on being free. There’s no such thing as impossible.

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