EXCLUSIVE: Golden Globe-nominated Michael Ealy (Think Like A Man Too, Sleeper Cell) will star as civil rights activist Dr. Gilbert Mason in biopic A Civil Right, the first feature from Michael Benaroya and Darryl Taja’s new Revolution Media shingle. The film tells the story of the Biloxi physician who led nonviolent “wade-ins” against segregation on Gulf Coast beaches between 1959 and 1963, protests that sparked violence from whites and resulted in the first successful anti-discrimination suit against the state of Mississippi. Mason’s activism landed him at #3 on the FBI’s civil rights agitators most-watched list, and he went on to successfully fight for school desegregation in the state and help form the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO). He served as President of the Mississippi NAACP for three decades before his death in 2006.
Salvatore Stabile will direct from his own script. “Sal wrote an amazing script that I’ve wanted to make for two years, as we are part of the greatest, modern country in the world, with a history that is plagued by a tumultuous past,” said Taja. “Without the contributions of so many individuals, like Dr. Mason, many of us would not be able to enjoy the civil liberties that we have in this modern society. I feel both obligated and humbled to be able share Sal’s interpretation of our history with the world, as well as grateful to have a partner in Michael (Benaroya) that shares my vision and allows us to use our resources to tell amazing stories like these that have shaped our society and impacted so many of us. It is the reason why we formed Revolution Media,” said Taja.
Benaroya and Taja will produce for Revolution, which they launched in June. Stabile will also produce. They’re looking to fill out the cast of real life figures involved in Mason’s historic efforts including Zack VanLandingham, a FBI agent turned state investigator who moved back to the south to protect and preserve his family’s way of life in the fight against integration.
Ealy earned his Golden Globes nomination for Showtime’s Sleeper Cell and starred recently on the big screen in the Think Like A Man franchise. His films include the Oprah Winfrey-produced Their Eyes Were Watching God, Seven Pounds, Barbershop, and Spike Lee’s Miracle At St. Anna. Ealy stars in and exec produced the upcoming Screen Gems thriller The Perfect Guy. He’s repped by The Gersh Agency, Epidemic Management, and Ziffren Law.
Writer-director Stabile’s credits include The Sopranos, Rescue Me, and Power. His 2007 Sundance pic Where God Left His Shoes nabbed the Sundance Humanitas Prize. He’s repped by UTA, manager Dan Halsted, and Morris Yorn Barnes Law.