- Whoopi Goldberg, The Deep End of the Ocean, 1998. The daily chat show of the wealthiest woman on US TV got in the way of her playing Candy Bliss.
- Queen Latifah, Ice Age: The Meltdown, 2004. Winfrey and Amy Adams were in the mix for voicing Ellie. But Queen Latifa ruled! Several characters missed Blue Sky’s final cut, including: Robert Duvall”s Alec The Vulture, Jamie Foxx’s Jonathan the Woolly Mammoth, Heath Ledger’s Chuck the Smilodon, even Woody Allen’s Thomas the Opossums.
- Jill Scott, The #1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, TV, 2008-2009. The tele-tycoon, Whoopie Goldberg and Queen Latifah were overly obvious choices while Grammy-winning singer Scott proved totally refreshing as novelist Alexander McCall Smith’s amateur but canny Botswana ‘tec, Mma Precious Ramotswe. The pilot was the last work of Anthony Minghella and Sydney Pollack. Apparently, 18 African actresses were also tested but no one seems to have logged their names…
- Macy Gray, The Paperboy, 2011. Anita, the maid, had just four lines… At the time. Being rejected by the tele-maven was a blessing in disguise for director Lee Daniels. “In hindsight, I can’t imagine Oprah on the floor trying to masturbate. Everybody has [their] own interpretation. She would’ve played it very stoic, you know, something very different.” He just felt to Grammy Award-winning singer Macy Gray proved the right choice and “evolved” the role for her. Winfrey accepted a role in Daniels’ next film, The Butler.
- Viola Davis, Suicide Squad, 2015. After 15 possible Harley Quinns and 20 Deadshots, director David Ayer had a real shortlist -four names! – for Amanda Waller: Davis, Octavia Spencer, Scandal’s delectable Kerry Washington and… Oprah Winfrey, no less.
- Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures, 2016. We never knew… How three anonymous black women mathematicians changed NASA thinking and were the reason the always named astronauts managed to do what they did. Katherine Johnson (played by Taraji P Henson), Dorothy Vaughn and Mary Jackson were unsung pioneers, achieving math data that no one else, of any race or gender, had ever accomplished – and unknown heroes until Margot Lee Shetterly wrote her book and singer Pharrell Williams helped produce the movie. Johnson was the only survivor of the trio to see it. She died in 2020 at age 101. President Barack Obama presented her with a Presidential Medal of Freedom for her NASA work and NASA now has a new $30m building named the Katherine G Johnson Computational Research Facility.
Usual occupation: TV tycoonBirth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls: 5