Paula Abdul and Fantasia Barrino Have Sweet “American Idol” Reunion at “The Color Purple” Premiere

Barrino won 'American Idol' in 2004, when Abdul was a judge

<p>FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty; Kayla Oaddams/WireImage</p> Paula Abdul; Fantasia Barrino

FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty; Kayla Oaddams/WireImage

Paula Abdul; Fantasia Barrino

There's nothing better than an unexpected Idol reunion!

At Wednesday night's premiere of The Color Purple at The Academy Museum in Los Angeles, Fantasia Barrino and Paula Abdul were photographed hugging nearly two decades after Barrino starred in the singing competition show.

Barrino — who stars in The Color Purple — won the third season of American Idol when she was just 19 years old in 2004. At the time, Abdul, 61, was a judge.

In The Color Purple, Barrino, 39, plays lead character Celie, a Black woman living in the Jim Crow south whom the film follows throughout her life. Barrino previously portrayed the character on Broadway in the mid-2000s; Whoopi Goldberg originally played Celie on screen in Steven Spielberg's original 1985 film adaptation of The Color Purple book.

<p>Christopher Polk/Variety via Getty</p> Paula Abdul and Fantasia Barrino in Los Angeles on Dec. 6, 2023

Christopher Polk/Variety via Getty

Paula Abdul and Fantasia Barrino in Los Angeles on Dec. 6, 2023

Related: Taraji P. Henson Recalls Voting for Fantasia on American Idol So Many Times Her 'Finger Went Numb' (Exclusive)

Since she won Idol, Barrino has taken on multiple Broadway roles over the years and released seven studio albums. The Color Purple marked a return to a character that she was initially hesitant to revisit.

"I want to thank Celie, a role that I ran from. And when they called me, I said I was not coming back to play," she told the audience while taking the stage with her costars Taraji P. Henson and Danielle Brooks at ELLE's Women in Hollywood Awards in Los Angeles. "But it wasn't until our great director [Blitz Bazawule] called me and said, 'I'm giving Celie an imagination,' and I said, 'OK, I'm in.' "

"Because I was a young lady that went through a lot of things and lost a lot, and lost everything twice," she added. "I never thought I would be back here in front of y'all."

<p>Ray Mickshaw/WireImage</p> Fantasia Barino and Paula Abdul in 2006

Ray Mickshaw/WireImage

Fantasia Barino and Paula Abdul in 2006

Related: 'The Color Purple' Musical Trailer: Fantasia Barrino Stars in Emotional First Glimpse of New Movie

The film also stars Halle Bailey, Louis Gossett Jr., Corey Hawkins, David Alan Grier, Colman Domingo, Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor, H.E.R., Ciara, Jon Batiste and Deon Cole.

"Because of Celie, I'm standing here and I want to speak to all of the Celies in the room tonight who didn't think you could make it out of certain situations," Barrino said at the event. "All of my Black women who felt like you were not pretty enough [or] you didn't have what it takes."

The Color Purple is in theaters Dec. 25.

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