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Margaret Avery of 'Color Purple' Is Now 77 Rocking a Gray Afro 35 Years after the Movie

Monica Otayza
Oct 07, 2021
10:00 A.M.
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Margaret Avery of "The Color Purple" is now a gorgeous 77-year-old woman rocking a gray afro 35 years after the hit movie was released in 1985. She's now working on a brand new project that fans can look forward to.

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Steven Spielberg's 1985 film "The Color Purple" was well-received and was nominated for 11 Academy Awards back in the day. It was pretty controversial at the time because despite bagging 11 nominations, they did not take home any of the Oscars' famous golden statues.

Margaret Avery, who played the crowd-favorite character Shug, was nominated for her supporting role as the blues singer. In the end, the Oscar went to Angelica Huston for "Prizzi's Honor."

A photo collage of Margaret Avery | Source: Getty Images / instagram.com/margaretshugavery

A photo collage of Margaret Avery | Source: Getty Images / instagram.com/margaretshugavery

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AVERY 35 YEARS LATER

35 years after the movie, Avery proves she's aging like a fine wine after looking youthful in her recent posts on Instagram. Instead of her dark hair, however, she also now sports a gorgeous gray afro that complements her glowing skin.

In one of her recent updates, she wore a native sunhat to shield her eyes from the glaring sun. The light reflected on her skin, and she looked nothing her age as she beamed for the photo.

Margaret Avery attends "Alfre Woodard and Morgan Stanley present the 9th Annual Oscar's Sistahs Soiree" on February 28, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images

Margaret Avery attends "Alfre Woodard and Morgan Stanley present the 9th Annual Oscar's Sistahs Soiree" on February 28, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images

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HER HUMBLE BEGINNINGS

Born on January 20, 1944, the actress is the daughter of a Navy man who raised her in San Diego, California. She got into acting but decided to pursue teaching as it was a more stable career for her.

After graduating from San Francisco State University, she taught at a public school. However, she couldn't get her mind away from acting.

She would audition for commercials before managing to land some stage work and singing gigs. In the early 1970s, she performed in plays like "Revolution," "Sistuhs," and "Does a Tiger Wear a Necktie?"

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RISING TO FAME

The latter made her a Los Angeles Drama Critics Award recipient, which ultimately landed her TV roles. However, of everything she was able to do, her popularity rose the most in the "blaxploitation era."

She established herself as a versatile actress, landing roles on "Cool Breeze," "Hell Up in Harlem," and "Magnum Force." She also had roles in "Louis Armstrong - Chicago Style" and "Scott Joplin" with Billy Dee Williams.

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HER BIG BREAK

In 1985, she was put in the spotlight after landing the role of Shug Avery in "The Color Purple." It was once rumored that she only landed the role after Patti LaBelle and Tina Turner turned it down, but it didn't matter.

She landed the role after working with Spielberg in "Something Evil" three years prior, and he remembered her from the cast. Ultimately, she bagged an Academy Award nomination which she did not win.

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THEIR HIT MOVIE

"The Color Purple" grossed a reported $142 million on a $15 million budget. It was Spielberg's first venture into drama, and it was a hit that continues to be remembered today.

Avery once opened up about the best memories she had while making the film. Noting that she was the last character to be cast, she admitted she had to fight to be seen.

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HER EXPERIENCE IN THE FILM

When Avery got the role, she said it was the "most beautiful and spiritual thing." After finding out all the others who auditioned for the role, she prayed for the courage to believe in herself.

To prepare for the role, she had to gain a total of 30 pounds in 30 days. She worked with a trainer and ate weight-gaining food like avocado, whole-wheat bread, and creamy salad dressings.

Other people might have dreaded it, but it was an experience she fully embraced. She'd eat a pint of ice cream at 3 in the morning because she knew she wouldn't get to do that ever again.

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LOVING HER CHARACTER

Ultimately, despite the challenges that came with it, she learned to love her character. She used to be bothered by the fact that people would remember her as Shug, but now, it's something she loves being recognized for.

Up until today, it's something people continue to remember her by. When people recognize her voice, they end up circling back to the famous film.

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TAKING A PAUSE

While it was highly expected that the hit movie would do wonders for her career, Avery did not make another movie until three years later. She played a jazz singer in "Blueberry Hill," which also starred Carrie Snodgress.

She stepped away from the spotlight from the late 1990s to the early 2000s and worked as a family therapist in Los Angeles. She also earned a master's degree in psychology.

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LIFE OUTSIDE HOLLYWOOD

Admittedly, Avery said the roles have not been challenging enough to take on, and there was also a scarcity of roles for Black women. So, instead of being a full-time actress, she decided to work as a therapist at the same time.

Ultimately, she was content being out of the spotlight. She was okay not having the visibility, and she enjoyed being able to help other people.

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SPENDING TIME WITH FAMILY

Another reason why she decided to step away from the spotlight was to spend more time with family, acknowledging that family is "not here forever."

However, after the death of her mom, she decided to re-enter the entertainment industry. She wanted to have fun, and she knew that she needed an outlet after coping with the loss.

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TALKING ABOUT HOLLYWOOD

In 2016, Avery starred on BET's "Being Mary Jane" and opened up about how she views Hollywood after being in the industry for decades. Talking about how the game needs to be changed, she said:

"Black films are marketed differently. We get less money for pay. What’s up with that? That’s why I like being in white projects, because I get more money."

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HER MOST RECENT PROJECT

More recently, Avery is set to star in "Block Party," a Juneteenth Comedy. The holiday movie is directed by Dawn Wilkinson and will be released this year.

The "Color Purple" actress has been sharing updates with fans on Instagram, showing off her gorgeous gray afro and her youthful looks. She and her co-stars clearly get along with one another, as seen in their videos.

Avery's followers shower her with praises in the comment section of her posts, noting how beautiful she looks. The actress is beautifully glowing in her updates, and it's all because she's learned to embrace life as it goes.

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