Photo: George Burns/Harpo Studios
Along with Whoopi and Oprah, The Color Purple was also Desreta's big-screen debut. The film's casting director, Reuben Cannon, was searching for actors at an open casting call when he spotted Desreta. "I passed Reuben Cannon, and he came to me like: 'You, come here. Turn around,'" Desreta says. "I turned around. He was, like, 'Can you come back tonight?'"
Oprah says she remembers how strict Reuben was with the inexperienced cast. "I have some Reuben stories myself," Oprah says. "He was very tough on all of us."
Reuben, however, gave Margaret a big break. Originally, the producers wanted Tina Turner to play the role of Shug Avery, but Tina passed. "I owe it to Tina for turning it down and Reuben Cannon for giving me the opportunity to read," Margaret says. "Thank you, Reuben."