Meet Actress Aba Arthur
WRITTEN BY DR. SHANESSA FENNER
The West African actress plays Abena in the musical adaptation of the movie, “The Color Purple,” that premieres in theaters on Christmas Day, December 25.
Aba Arthur is making her mark in the film industry. In 2022, she joined the cast of “Wakanda Forever” and in 2023, she is a part of the iconic cast of “The Color Purple.” Upscale Magazine recently caught up with the buoyant talent to discuss her passion for acting, how she prepares for her roles and working with Oprah.
When did you first realize that you wanted to pursue acting?
I was always that kid that would make up dances and songs. I was always a performer, but I come from a very West African traditional household where you are a doctor and/or a lawyer. Of course we have actors, but a career in performing arts was not necessarily something that I saw often. It wasn’t something that I knew was an actual career. I got to college and found out there was a program at my school where you could do some kind of performance and they only chose 12 people. I understood it was a monologue, so in the middle of the monologue I was standing on stage and I felt like a rod went through my body. I very clearly heard the message that this is what you are supposed to do. This is your focus. From that day forward, this has been my focus.
What do you think is the purpose of art?
I feel like art can be two-fold. I think there is an element of escapism as well as being educational. I feel the escapism is the audience going through life. There are often times that we want to turn something on that is going to bring you some joy or help you think about something other than what is happening in your circumstances. The educational part is important to me because I believe in empathy and I feel like if we as humans had more of it, it would eliminate a lot of the issues that we have in the world. I feel very strongly about that when I am considering the roles that I am going to take because if it is not doing something to teach somebody else about a way in which they can handle their emotions, then it is not important to me.
Tell us about your character, Abena, and how you got into character for the role.
I am a bit of a spoiler in the movie and I will leave that up to the audience to see it in the movie. I get into all of my characters by doing personal discovery journaling. So you want to ask yourself some questions. I do that cold diary entry for any of my characters, especially Abena. That way you are well informed on who the person is emotionally. So when you show up on set and you are getting dressed and getting your makeup done, it is swirling in your mind the heart of who the person is. The most important thing is what is in the character’s heart and soul.
What was it like working with Oprah?
I have been waiting my whole life to meet Oprah. I knew it was coming one day. It was better than I expected. She is nice, kind, vulnerable, friendly and very down-to-earth. She carried this regality when she walked about. She met everybody in conversation where they were. She was magnificent. It is an honor working with Oprah.
On top of it all, Aba has established several Projects, such as the Ohemaa Project, dedicated to amplifying diverse narratives and empowering underrepresented voices in the industry. She will continue to be a role model for women of all generations and we wish her tremendous success in her future endeavors.
“The Color Purple,” premieres in theaters on Christmas Day, December 25.
BY DR. SHANESSA FENNER