SAN FRANCSICO (CBS 5) — Director Tyler Perry’s new movie “For Colored Girls” brings to the screen Ntozake Shange’s Obie Award-winning play, a poetic exploration of what is to be of color and a female in this world.

CBS 5 recently talked to Thandie Newton and Tessa Thompson, two of the stars about their roles in the film.

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The 27-year-old Thompson said life on the set of the film felt like a family affair. She said her A-list co-stars (the ensemble cast features Janet Jackson and Whoopi Goldberg) felt like “big sisters and surrogate mothers.”

“It was such a joy to work with people that are so talented and gifted and wildly successful,” she said.

Newton and Thompson are among nine women in the film placed into one New York apartment building in the Harlem neighborhood (they were scattered across the United States in the play), where their stories overlap.

Newton’s carachter, Tangie, is a self-destructive bartender who slides into bed easily with her customers. Her younger sister Nyla is a high school dancer, (played by Thompson) who has just lost her virginity. Their angry, righteous mother (played by Goldberg) is a religious fanatic clad in only white.

Newton said Tangie doesn’t seem to have an inner conflict about who she is, she owns her sexuality and finds personal growth without changing the way she conducts herself.

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“There’s something about Tangie that we envy. She is uncompromising and unashamed. She doesn’t need to alter her power. She just needs to nurture herself as opposed to sabotaging herself,” Newton said in an interview.

Thompson describes Nyla as “a young woman that has to endure something that’s really painful and has a fall from grace, but I think she represents the opportunity for growth and for possibility and for a future that is bright, regardless of what it’s fettered by.”

When faced with an unwanted pregnancy, Nyla undergoes an unsanitary, back-alley abortion at the hands of a deeply disturbed woman (played by singer Macy Gray).

An Associated Press review of the film notes that Thompson shines, particularly in Nyla’s post-abortion soliloquy: “Eyes crawling up on me, eyes crawling up my thighs.”

“I think so many women have a tremendous amount of shame when that’s the decision that they make. And so I feel like the movie, having the abortion set in an environment that was just so dark and scary kind of brought that to life,” Thompson said in an interview.

“For Colored Girls,” a Lionsgate release, is rated R for some disturbing violence including a rape, sexual content and language. Running time: 120 minutes. The Associated Press review gave it one and a half stars out of four.

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