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London Heads West


Latoya London 
Courtesy of Latoya London

LaToya London is looking forward to coming home this month. The 29-year-old Oakland native, who gained national fame when she made the final four of American Idol’s third season, is in the national touring company of the Broadway musical The Color Purple, which opens in San Francisco on October 9. Diablo caught up with London in Chicago, where she debuted in the Oprah Winfrey–produced musical.

Are you excited or nervous about performing in front of your family and friends in your hometown?
I’m really excited. I miss the Bay Area; to see my family and spend time with them will be great. It’s rare for entertainers to get to be on a national tour that’s playing in your hometown. I have so many friends who haven’t been able to come to Chicago, and I want to show them what I can do.

Alice Walker’s novel came out in 1982, when you were three. When did you first read it?

I first read parts of it in elementary school. The book has all these nasty scenes—so my friends and I would just read the steamy stuff [laughs].

Of course I saw the movie, which isn’t as detailed as the book. I read the book fully for the first time during rehearsals, after I got the part.

Your Idol cast mate Jennifer Hudson won an Oscar this year for Dreamgirls. Have you kept in touch?
Yes, we’re good friends—she came to visit me here at the show in Chicago. I knew she was perfect for the role. I knew she was going to tear it up, because that girl can sang—and please spell that S-A-N-G.

Have you spent time with Oprah?
She came onstage with the cast after the opening-night performance. I just reached out and hugged her as soon as I saw her. But then she came backstage and took a picture with the cast—and I was in my dressing room and didn’t know, and didn’t get a picture. Fortunately, she invited the cast to a taping of her show, and I got my own individual shot with Oprah. She was real cool, real down to earth.

Where will you take your cast mates to show off your home turf?
In the East Bay, we’ll hit the Air Lounge and Maxwell’s Lounge. Definitely Everett and Jones. I haven’t been home in a while, so I’m not sure what the newest hot spots are. But we’ll find them!

The Color Purple plays at San Francisco’s Orpheum Theatre October 9–November 18. For tickets, go to www.ticketmaster.com or call (415) 512-7770.

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