Apollonia has come out of mouring…
The 57-year-old Mexican American actress, singer, former model and talent manager made her first public appearance since the passing of Prince on Monday night at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater.
The occasion? Purple Rain: Celebration, a panel discussion/screening presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (AMPAS) in Beverly Hills, Calif.
The evening’s surprise guest was joined by fellow cast members Jerome Benton and Jill Jones as well as the film’s writer/director Albert Magnoli, producer Robert Cavallo and costume designer Marie France.
Clips from the 57th Academy Awards — when Prince won the Oscar for original song score for Purple Rain — opened the evening.
Then noting that “not just a memory was being celebrated but also a milestone,” AMPAS president Cheryl Boone Isaacs announced that the brand new 35mm optical stereo print being shown would be added to the Academy’s permanent collection. Also setting the tone: an array of brilliant portraits of Prince displayed in the outer lobby, taken over the years by his personal photographer Afshin Shahidi.
Writer/director Reginald Hudlin, who produced the 88th Academy Awards this year, and Grammy-winning composer/bass guitarist Marcus Miller, moderated the ensuing 90-minute conversation.
Swapping stories about everything from the film’s early beginnings to the 90 still unreleased songs out of the 100 Prince had for the soundtrack to the absurd suggestion that John Travolta portray Prince, the panelists drew plenty of ooh’s and raucous laughter:
“I was the last person they saw for the audition [to find the Vanity replacement]. [Actress] Nia Peeples had just walked out of the room. I walked in and they asked me to take my shoes off. I thought wow, they’re into feet. Later I learned they were flying me to Minneapolis to meet Prince, who takes me out for a ride in a purple limo. He was very reserved and shy. I’m like Chatty Cathy. The next day we do an audition at First Avenue. I wore black spandex and a metal mesh blouse. Later there’s a knock at my hotel door and it’s Chick [Charles ‘Big Chick’ Huntsberry] from his security team: “The kid likes you. Play it cool,” said Apollonia.
“Prince called me and sang several pieces of [‘When Doves Cry’] into my answering machine and said not to erase it. When he came to my apartment, he headed straight to my machine. I still have that tape,” she added.