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

'The Color Purple,' starring Henson and Barrino, arrives in theaters on Dec. 25

<p>Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty</p> Danielle Brooks, Fantasia Barrino and Taraji P. Henson

Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty

Danielle Brooks, Fantasia Barrino and Taraji P. Henson

Taraji P. Henson has been rooting for her Color Purple co-star Fantasia Barrino since her American Idol days.

On Monday, The Color Purple cast members attended the Critics Choice Association’s Celebration of Cinema & Television: Honoring Black, Latino and AAPI Achievements at the Fairmont Century Plaza Hotel in Century City, California.

PEOPLE was present as Henson, 53, gushed about how her love and support for Barrino, 39, runs deep.

“I’ve always been a fan of hers and I was a huge champion for her on American Idol,” the Hidden Figures talent said when asked what it was like spending time with the “Free Yourself” singer on the set of their upcoming film.

<p>Leon Bennett/Getty</p> Taraji P. Henson

Leon Bennett/Getty

Taraji P. Henson

“I voted as many times as I could, finger went numb. And also my grandfather, who passed away about 20 years ago, was a huge fan of hers. So I’m showing love through him to her,” Henson added.

Barrino won the singing competition in May 2004 when she was just 19. At the time, Idol host Ryan Seacrest revealed that a record 65 million votes had been called in to make the selection.

“You know what, I’ve been through some things, but I’ve worked hard to get where I’m at. Thank you all so much, man,” Barrino tearfully said after being chosen as the champ.

Now, Barrino’s vocals will be heard in the upcoming movie musical The Color Purple, which is based on Alice Walker’s 1982 novel. The star-studded cast features Halle Bailey, Henson, Jon Batiste, Danielle Brooks, Louis Gossett Jr., Corey Hawkins, David Alan Grier, Colman Domingo, Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor, H.E.R., Ciara, and Deon Cole.

Oprah Winfrey, who is a producer on the new film, starred as Sofia in the 1985 movie opposite Whoopi Goldberg as Celie.

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"The Color Purple in 1985 was the biggest and most important thing that ever happened to me and continues to be," she said onstage at CinemaCon 2023 in April, adding, "Now we're doing a brand-new version that could only come because of the most perfect director," in Blitz Bazawule, who helmed Beyoncé’s Black Is King.

The film follows "the extraordinary sisterhood of three women who share one unbreakable bond,” per a press release.

Henson stars as Shug Avery while Barrino stars as adult Celie. This marks the “Truth Is” singer’s second time stepping into the role as she also portrayed the character in 2007 during the Broadway run of The Color Purple.

The Tony Award-winning show was also produced by Winfrey, 69.

Related: Fantasia Barrino Gets Emotional as She Celebrates 39th Birthday with Oprah Winfrey and 'The Color Purple' Cast

Barrino previously told PEOPLE that she learned a lot from the actress.

"Oprah gave me a lot of advice. She sat me down … Just, you know, how a lady should carry herself. How to manage your money. How to not put your trust in everybody. Just watch your back," she said in 2008.

"But most of all, you have to watch what you do. You have to carry yourself in such a way. You have to just watch your every move and carry yourself as a lady," Barrino added. "So other young ladies who are watching you will know this is how you do it."

The Color Purple arrives in theaters Dec. 25.

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