"This is my dream and when I say that I truly mean that," she says. "When you fully step into your dream there is no other feeling like that. It is an out of body experience to truly be doing what you thought...what you know you're on this Earth to do."
Brooks says she studied Alice Walker's book, which inspired the musical, in preparation for the role. But she adds that she also pays homage to Winfrey, who played the role in the 1985 film adaption. Winfrey is also producing the Broadway revival. The two met at Essence's Black Women in Hollywood event earlier this year.
"Oprah came up and just gave me a hug from behind and it was just right," Brooks recalls. "It just was a great moment. But since then I've done an interview with her for her OWN Network and it's been lovely. It's been a great surprise."
Brooks notes that being on stage is nothing like shooting her hit Netflix series.
"It's very different because it's live. There is a house of over 1,000 people watching you and you have to be alert and ready and be listening and responding honestly," she says. "For me, I've always thought of the audience as the third character. So every night is different, and it changes and the audience has been so beautiful."