The ladies of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. brought their blue and white along with The Color Purple to MetWest High School in Oakland in May 18. The Epsilon Phi Zeta Educational Foundation, based in Oakland, hosted The Color Purple cast members, Carrie Compere (Sophia) and J. Daughtry (Harpo), as they performed a musical number and held a Q & A session for students.
Compare, who began the production’s national tour cast as a church lady, now performs the role of Sophia, originally performed by Oprah Winfrey in the film. Compare said becoming a young mother and wife like her character Sophia allowed her to fully embrace her role.
“I was the understudy for Sophia’s character while performing the church lady role,” she said. “It was exciting to switch rolesbecause Sophia’s life is on an emotional roller coaster and it takes a lot to prepare for that.”
J. Daughtry, who performs the role of Harpo, said he recalled conversations he had with his dad and uncles to bring an authentic voice to his character. “Growing up the men around you help you formulate your roles as a man, right, wrong or traditional,” he said. “This role gave me the opportunity to revisit things I had learned and the value of eventually taking a stand and living life on different terms.”
Both Compare and Daughtry advised students to strengthen their skills and follow their passions. “Surround yourself with supportive people, continue to train and take classes, never give up,” said Daughtry.
“Our sorority strongly supports education and the arts,” said Zeola Slaughter. “Bringing artists on a national tour directly to a school brings tremendous value to their world.”
Andrea Howard, Treasurer of foundation considers The Color Purple iconic. “It’s great that we have the opportunity to bring a live adaptation of the Pulitzer-prize winning novel (1983) to high school students in Oakland. It’s a wonderful partnership. ”
MetWest High School opened in 2002 as one of the first “new small autonomous schools” in Oakland. The school’s internship based learning model gives students real world experience while working towards their diploma and pursuit of higher education.
“Having The Color Purple cast members here today was really entertaining and informative for our students,” said MetWest Principal Michelle Deiro with members of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority.
The Epsilon Phi Zeta Educational Foundation was created in 2017. The 501(c) 3 non-profit private foundation operates as the charitable arm of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority and funds annual academic scholarships and educational programs for youth and adults in Northern California.
The Color Purple will be at the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco through May 27, 2018.