Allee’s recent mention of the “Dear God” letters in Alice Walker’s THE COLOR PURPLE jogged my memory and I dug up this excruciatingly ill-conceived ad that appeared in the Hollywood trades back in 1986. Margaret Avery, who portrayed the character of Shug in the Spielberg-directed film (later to become a Broadway hit with music written by our kitsch goddess, Allee Willis) placed the ad which was in the form of an open letter to God.
As if discussing an Oscar nomination with God wasn’t blasphemous enough, Avery took it one step further and wrote the desperate Oscar campaign letter in a dialect which wasn’t even consistent with the way her articulate character spoke in the film. WHAT WAS SHE THINKING?! Academy Voters expressed their opinion by awarding that year’s Best Supporting Actress Oscar to Angelica Huston for PRIZZI’S HONOR.
I remember what a hubbub this caused at the time. Especially after co- writing the musical, I’m here to say that this is SO NOT in the character of Shug who believes so much in herself she didn’t give a shit about anyone else approving or disapproving of her. And, as you point out, the dialect went further than in the original book not to mention the much tamer movie. Look what you done done, Shug…
I remember the stink that this created and I wasn’t even in LA at the time, I was in Ohio. Bad move on her part.