Danai Gurira (Black Panther, The Walking Dead) is set to star in The Fighting Shirley Chisholm, a movie about the United States of America’s first Black congresswoman who went on to make history yet again by running for president in 1972.
Variety reports that Gurira, who appeared in last year’s Avengers: Endgame and is rumored to show up in Legendary’s giant monster movie Godzilla vs. Kong next year, will play Shirley Chisholm, taking over in a role that was once earmarked for Viola Davis (Fences, The Suicide Squad). Davis was previously going to produce and star in the project for Amazon Studios, but it seems she is no longer involved and this iteration does not yet have a distributor lined up.
Variety stresses that this is not a typical cradle-to-the-grave biopic of Chisholm, who died in 2005 (though one would certainly be warranted, considering the life she led). Instead, the film will follow her historic run for president and focus on how “the Chisholm Trail was populated by young people who sought social and political change during one of the most turbulent times in American history.” Chisholm, who was elected as the country’s first Black congresswoman in 1968, was the first ever Black candidate for a major party’s nomination for President of the United States – although, unfortunately, she met with significant sexism on the campaign trail and even within her own party. Sounds like this has the makings of a potential awards contender for Gurira, who I would love to see given a big showcase for her talents.
Adam Countee, who has writing credits on shows like Community, Silicon Valley, Vice Principals, and HBO’s Run, is writing the screenplay. Cherien Dabis, who has directed episodes of Ramy, Ozark, The Sinner, and Empire, will be directing, and the film will be produced by Stephanie Allain, who previously produced or executive produced Hustle & Flow, Black Snake Moan, Beyond the Lights, Dear White People, and this year’s Academy Awards ceremony. (Remember that? Parasite won Best Picture! How incredible was that? It feels like a collective fever dream, but it was a real thing that actually happened.)
It must be an interesting time for the Chisholm family right now. Not only was Kamala Harris just elected as the first Black vice president this country has ever seen (building on the foundations Chisholm laid when she was active in the political sphere), but Chisholm was also portrayed in the FX series Mrs. America, and actress Uzo Aduba (Orange is the New Black) even won an Emmy for her performance.
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