‘Euphoria’ Star Colman Domingo on Singing for Oprah Winfrey and Zooming With the Obamas

·3-min read

Colman Domingo says his younger brother gave him the best compliment about his new autobiographical animated short, “New Moon.”

“He was overcome,” Domingo tells me on this week’s episode of the “Just for Variety” podcast. “He said, ‘More than anything, you brought the feeling of mom back.’”

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“New Moon” tells the story of a little boy who is shown how to dream by his hardworking single mom. It is based on Domingo’s play “A Boy and His Soul.”

Domingo is the voice of the narrator as well as the mother. “My siblings say I have my mom’s voice down pat,” he says. “They’re like, ‘You sound just like mommy.’”

The film will screen during Outfest on July 16 in Los Angeles.

“New Moon” is written by Domingo and his husband and producing partner Raúl Domingo. Raúl co-directed with Jérémie Balais and Jeff Leffig. When the couple first made the film, they didn’t know what to do with it. It was people like Ava DuVernay, Lee Daniels and Matthew Cherry who suggested they submit it to film festivals. They’re hoping to adapt it as a television series.

“New Moon.”
“New Moon.”

I talked to Domingo just hours after he received his first Emmy nomination for his work as Ali on “Euphoria.” “I did something that shocked me — I actually started crying,” Domingo says of learning he was nominated. “This felt different because I know what the character represents to many people. It sounds strange, but I wanted it for all that he represents and the language that Sam [Levinson] gives me and what he’s doing in the television space, which I think is a breakthrough. And this character, this Black guy who’s an addict and he’s trying to do some good in the world — I want that to be amplified.”

After our interview, Domingo was heading to his last day of shooting the Oprah Winfrey-produced “The Color Purple” movie musical in Atlanta. He plays Mister in the big screen adaptation of the Tony-winning stage show. The cast also includes Taraji P. Henson, Fantasia, Danielle Brooks, H.E.R., Ciara, Halle Bailey, Aunjanue Ellis and Corey Hawkins.

He recalled seeing Winfrey on set during the early days of shooting, when they were filming the final scene. “Oprah was there, and she actually stood under this tree, this big, beautiful, great Oak tree,” Domingo says. “Oprah couldn’t help herself. She came to set, and she was in the video village and all, but then at some point she was literally right under the tree. So when the camera is going around to all of us, we’re literally singing at Oprah. She’s so moved and she’s singing with us the finale ‘Color Purple’ song. So, when everyone sees our eyes in the camera going around, we’re actually looking at Oprah!”

Also in the can is “Rustin,” the George C. Wolfe-directed biopic about Bayard Rustin, the late gay civil rights leader who played a crucial role in elevating Martin Luther King Jr. to national leadership. Domingo plays Rustin in his first headlining feature role.

The film is the first narrative feature produced by Barack and Michelle Obama and their production company Higher Ground. The former first couple talked with the cast over Zoom a couple of months ago. “I happened to be in Cabo for a little vacation…They just wanted to connect with the whole cast, and we just talked,” Domingo remembers. “Anytime you hear Barack Obama saying your name, it’s the weirdest thing. He’d say, ‘Oh yeah, Colman.’ You’re like, ‘Oh my god, he said [my name].’ You fan out, but then you’re like, let me stay focused. They’re wonderful, they’re huge champions of this film.”

You can hear the full interview with Domingo above. You can also listen to “Just for Variety” wherever you find your favorite podcasts.

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