Oprah Winfrey pulls no punches in Selma—literally.

The Oscar-nominated media mogul plays Annie Lee Cooper, a real life civil rights activist most known for punching Selma sheriff Jim Clark.

"The reason I said yes to this role is because of the magnificence of Annie Lee Cooper and what her courage meant to an entire movement," Winfrey says in an exclusive video featurette made for the Ava DuVernay-directed film. "Having people look at you and not see you as a human being—she just got tired of it."

In the harrowing scene, Winfrey screams in agony as she is grabbed and thrown to the ground by police officers after she slams the sheriff in the head. "You cannot know where you're going unless you know where you've been," Winfrey says.

Winfrey told me exclusively last month that it took some convincing to get her to be in the movie.

Selma, Oprah Winfrey


David Oyelowo, who stars as Martin Luther King Jr. in the movie, asked her to be a producer on the project.

"I was like, ‘Producer? I don't want to do that. That means I have to actually work,'" Winfrey said. "I said, I'll just tell you from behind the scenes what to do."

It was DuVernay who suggested Winfrey play Cooper.

"I was like, ‘I'm not going to do that. I'm not going to play another person who punches somebody out,'" Winfrey said. "In every movie, do I have to punch somebody out? And then Ava sent me [a story] from Google about the real Annie Lee Cooper that said she watched the Oprah show every day. Not only watched, but watched it with a tuna fish sandwich—which is exactly how I would want to watch it.

"Ava said, ‘What do you think it would mean to this woman who watched you every day?'" she continued. "She got me! She got me. So it was like, ‘Yeah, maybe I'll do that.'"

Selma is up for four Golden Globes. DuVernay made history by becoming the first black woman nominated for a best director Golden Globe by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. The Globes will be handed out on Jan. 11 during a live broadcast on NBC starting at 8 p.m. ET.

Selma is also considered a strong Oscar contender. Nominations will be announced on Jan. 15.

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