The Woman Who Convinced Oprah to Join the Cast of Selma

Aired on 01/04/2015 | CC tv-14
When director Ava DuVernay signed on as the director of Selma, she decided to shine a light on the courageous yet often overlooked women of the civil rights movement. One such woman was activist Annie Lee Cooper, who was best known for punching Jim Clark, the Sheriff of Dallas County, of which Selma is the seat, after he prodded her in the neck with a billy club. There was only one actress Ava wanted to play this strong, tenacious woman: Oprah Winfrey.

Oprah says that although she loved the film, she was hesitant. In Lee Daniels' The Butler, she acts out a scene where she slaps her son, played by David Oyelowo, in the face. She wasn't so keen on the idea of playing out another violent scene, but Ava persisted. "I had to ask you four times," Ava says. "I had to really pitch."

What finally convinced Oprah to take on the role? Ava sent Oprah an article about the real-life Annie Lee Cooper. When she was turning 100 years old, Annie's local paper published an article about her. Find out what Annie said in that article that made Oprah say yes to the role.

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