We love to Netflix and chill, but sometimes it’s nice like to curl up on the couch and watch a classic Black movie that’s not on the streaming service.
Some of our favorite films were actually books before they hit the big screen, but we’re so happy that directors and producers like Spike Lee and Oprah Winfrey brought these stories to life on film.
Keep reading for 15 iconic movies you probably didn’t know were based on books.
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Alice Walker’s 1982 novel The Color Purple won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1983 (Walker was the first Black woman to win), and then went on to become the iconic film starring Whoopi Goldberg as Celie in her breakthrough role.
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Golden Globe and Emmy award-winning TV miniseries Roots premiered on ABC in 1977. The film, which focused on Kunta Kinte (LeVar Burton) being taken from Gambia, West Africa and sold into slavery in America, was based on Alex Haley’s novel, Roots: The Saga of an American Family.
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Your girls will always be there for you when your love life hits a speed bump and Waiting to Exhale explores that relationship, it's twist and turns, and the strength women get from each other.
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Toni Morrison’s Pulitzer-Prize winning novel Beloved was inspired by African-American slave Margaret Garner who escaped slavery by fleeing from Kentucky to free state Ohio in 1856. Oprah Winfrey adapted the book into the iconic film of the same name, and starred in it alongside Danny Glover and Thandie Newton.
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The iconic biopic What’s Love Got to Do with It was based on Tina Turner’s autobiography that was written by Kurt Loder. The film chronicled Turner, played by Angela Bassett, and her rise to fame and the abuse she experienced from husband Ike Turner, played by Laurence Fishburne.
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Steve Harvey’s relationship advice book Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man was a #1 New York Times bestseller. Sony Pictures adapted the book into romantic comedy Think Like A Man starring Kevin Hart, Michael Ealy and Taraji P. Henson, and Harvey served as an executive producer for the film.
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Starring Diana Ross and Michael Jackson, 1978 film The Wiz remains one of the most iconic Black movies to this day. The Wiz was based on the 1974 Broadway musical of the same name, which was based on the children’s book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
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Will Smith and Jade Pinkett-Smith brought the The Secret Life of Bees, which was based on Sue Monk Kidd’s novel, to the big screen in 2008. Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson and Alicia Keys are part of the drama film’s cast.
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American novelist Kathryn Stockett’s debut novel The Help was set in the 1960s and featured African-American maids who worked in white households in Mississippi. The novel was adapted into the critically acclaimed film featuring Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer who won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for the film.
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Spike Lee directed and co-wrote the 1992 Malcolm X film that starred Denzel Washington as the Black activist and earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. The film was largely based on The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley.
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“Lady Sings The Blues" was one of jazz singer Billie Holiday’s most popular songs, and she chose to use the title for her autobiography. In 1972, Diana Ross played Holiday in the drama film of the same name. The stellar cast also included Billy Dee Williams and Richard Pryor.
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Angela Bassett, Regina King and Whoopi Goldberg starred in the film How Stella Got Her Groove Back, which was based on Terry McMillan’s novel. A then 27-year-old Taye Diggs made his film debut in the movie.
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Based on the novel Push by Sapphire, Precious was directed by Lee Daniels in 2009. Gabourey Sidibe, who played Precious, made her acting debut in the film, and Mo’Nique, who played her mom, won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.
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Denzel Washington also starred in the 1995 mystery film Devil in a Blue Dress. Director Carl Franklin was a fan of Walter Mosley’s novel, and decided to bring the novel to Hollywood. Mosley was an associate producer for the film.
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Derek Luke, Michael Ealy and Laz Alonso starred in the 2008 Spike Lee-directed film Miracle at St. Anna that featured four soldiers in Italy during World War II. Lee approached author James McBride to adapt his book of the same name into the film.
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