Despite online rumors, Oprah Winfrey says she and Taraji P. Henson are not feuding.
Viral TikTok posts made many commenters think something was off between the two Hollywood stars.
Here's what Henson and Winfrey have said about working together and how a viral post spurred a fake feud.
A corner of the internet believes "The Color Purple" star Taraji P. Henson and Oprah Winfrey are feuding, even though they've never spoken ill of each other publicly.
During press for Warner Bros.' remake of the 1985 movie, Henson and executive producer Winfrey supported each other as they discussed fixing work conditions on the movie set.
However, two viral TikTok posts overshadowed any positive dialogue about creating a better work environment due to their perceived tension and awkward body language at a December event.
The "feud" took on a life of its own as commenters weighed in until Winfrey denied any accusations of tension at the 2024 Golden Globes, calling rumors "disturbing."
"Why is my name in this conversation? 'Cause I have just been the champion for everybody," Winfrey asked "CBS Mornings" host and close friend Gayle King.
Here's how we got to this point.
Danielle Brooks said Henson and Oprah spoke to ensure they had food and dressing rooms on set of 'The Color Purple'
During a cast interview hosted by The Hollywood Reporter on December 11, Brooks, who takes on Winfrey's original role of Sofia in the remake, detailed how Henson and Winfrey worked together to ensure the cast had individual dressing rooms and food on set.
"I remember when we first came in and we were doing rehearsals, they put us all in the same space," Brooks said. "We didn't have our own dressing rooms at the time. They didn't give us — Sorry Ms. O — We didn't have no food."
Danielle Brookes talking about how they didn't have their own dressing rooms or food until Oprah called Taraji pic.twitter.com/4pwXLL4bk4
— Maddie's Green Reading Dress (@PoeticJusticeK) January 6, 2024
At this point, Henson jumped in to say Winfrey didn't know about their ordeal at the time.
Winfrey said she called Henson to set things straight, which the "Empire" star confirmed.
"I was like, 'Ms. O, we gotta fix this.' And she said, 'Say less,'" Henson recalled.
Brooks said Henson was their voice on set, showing her how to stand up for what she deserves.
A clip from this interview didn't go viral on X, formerly Twitter, until nearly a month later, on January 6, after Henson and Winfrey's supposed feud took on a life of its own.
A viral clip of Henson and Winfrey at the Empire State Building sparked feud rumors
A TikTok video from December 12 showed some of "The Color Purple" cast and Winfrey posing on the Empire State Building's observation deck. Many commenters analyzed the body language between the two women.
In the video, Winfrey walks toward Henson, but they don't look at or greet each other.
When cast members Fantasia Barrino and Danielle Brooks join the pair, Winfrey steps away from Henson to stand beside Brooks.
"I also noticed the body language of Taraji and Oprah, it was awkward, I ran to the comments to see if anyone else noticed," one comment read. Another said: "The eyes will never lie! The pain in Taraji's face is evident. And the silent conversation between her & Fantasia is loud!"
A subsequent video from the same day showed Winfrey engaging with everyone who spoke about the film at the Empire State Building except for Henson. Commenters noted that something seemed off.
Henson said she almost passed on 'The Color Purple'
On December 19, Henson was in tears as she discussed her continued struggle with pay disparity in Hollywood during a SiriusXM interview, saying she hasn't seen a raise since 2018's "Proud Mary" despite being an Oscar-nominated actor.
In another conversation with SAG-AFTRA posted online the same day, Henson said she almost passed on playing Shug Avery in "The Color Purple" because of the pay.
Taraji should have waited until after the Color Purple hype was over to speak publicly on her pay being too low. pic.twitter.com/afrWpc7vTD
— James Jones (@jamesjonesesq) December 21, 2023
"I haven't seen a raise in my income since 'Proud Mary' and almost had to walk away from 'The Color Purple,'" Henson said.
Combined with the TikTok videos, some began questioning Winfrey's support behind the scenes.
Henson praised Winfrey's support of the cast on Instagram
Amid feud speculation, Henson shared a photo of her and Winfrey on Instagram on December 21, praising the executive producer.
"Ms. OPRAH has been nothing less than a steady and solid beacon of light to ALL OF THE CAST of The Color Purple!!!" wrote Henson. "She has provided ENCOURAGEMENT, GUIDANCE and UNWAVERING SUPPORT to us all."
"She told me personally to reach out to her for ANYTHING I needed, and I did!" Henson added, thanking Winfrey for everything she did to make the team feel supported. "It took ONE CALL… ONE CONVERSATION… and ONE DECISION MAKING BLACK WOMAN to make me feel heard."
Henson called out the frustrations of working on 'The Color Purple' in a New York Times interview
In a New York Times interview published on January 5, Henson aired multiple grievances while working on the remake, including fighting for drivers for her and the cast.
"They gave us rental cars, and I was like, 'I can't drive myself to set in Atlanta.' This is insurance liability, it's dangerous," Henson said.
"I was like, 'Can I get a driver or security to take me?' I'm not asking for the moon," she continued. "They're like, 'Well, if we do it for you, we got to do it for everybody.' Well, do it for everybody! It's stuff like that, stuff I shouldn't have to fight for."
Once the article was released, Henson's comments led some people online to accuse Winfrey of not stepping in to help — even though Henson told the NYT that Winfrey was "in her corner" and had previously spoken up about her support multiple times.
Winfrey shut down rumors of any tension between herself and Henson
Two days later, Winfrey denied any feud with Henson while speaking with Entertainment Tonight.
"People are saying that I was not supporting Taraji. Taraji will tell you herself that I've been the greatest champion of this film," Winfrey said on the Golden Globes red carpet.
She added: "Whenever I heard there was an issue or there was a problem, there was a problem with a car or the problem with their food, I would step in and do whatever I could to make it right."
Winfrey also addressed concerns about the outdoor Empire State Building video, denying any awkwardness.
"On that particular day, we were so cold so I don't know what kind of body language people were talking about," Winfrey said. "I was literally just trying to stay warm and that was the fourth thing we had done. There's no validity to there being a thing between Taraji and I."
In another interview with Barrino and King, Winfrey said she made a call to Warner Bros. when she learned about the car issue.
"I personally called Toby Emmerich, who was at the time the head of Warner Bros., and he said, 'Well, that means we have to do cars for everybody,'" Winfrey said. "And I said, 'Then we do cars for everybody. And if it's necessary, I will pay for the cars myself.' He goes, 'Well, we don't want you to do that.'"
Barrino summed up her read of the feud as a moment in time taken out of context, saying, "Social media has become a thing where they will take something that's not even true and run it and run it and run it."
Read the original article on Business Insider