EXCLUSIVE: The White House legend that is Barack and Michelle Obama’s romance is heading to the screen. Southside With You, a drama in the vein of Before Sunrise, chronicles the summer 1989 afternoon when the future President of the United States of America wooed his future First Lady on an epic first date across Chicago’s South Side. Get On Up’s Tika Sumpter will play Michelle Obama (née Robinson), while the search is on to cast the young Barack.
As Presidential lore has it, the date took some convincing. Obama, then an idealistic first-year Harvard Law student, took a summer job as an associate at Chicago law firm Sidley Austin where he fell for lawyer Michelle Robinson, his younger boss. Southside With You spans the day she agreed to go out with him when the two visited the Art Institute, took a long walk, and caught a showing of Spike Lee’s new film, Do The Right Thing. They were married in 1992.
Richard Tanne (Worst Friends, The Roman) is helming the indie feature from his own screenplay, and former Warner Independent exec Tracey Bing and Columbia Pictures alum Stephanie Allain (Hustle & Flow, Beyond The Lights) are producing for Allain’s Homegrown Pictures. The project originated with Tanne and Sumpter, who will both executive produce. Filming is set to begin in July on location in Chicago.
“I took her to this new movie that everybody was talking about, directed by a guy that not that many people had heard of, but it was supposed to be pretty good,” Obama recalled during the film’s 25th anniversary celebration this summer. The site of the Obamas’ first kiss – curbside, outside a Baskin-Robbins in Chicago’s Hyde Park – was commemorated with a city plaque in 2012.
“Stephanie and I are excited to produce this smart and timeless film that sheds light on one of the great love stories of our time,” said Bing. “Richard really captures the essence of that romantic connection between Barack and Michelle that is so evident in the way that they look at each other. We are looking forward to finding the perfect Barack.”
Sumpter currently stars on OWN’s The Haves And The Have Nots and recently hit the big screen in Get On Up, Ride Along, Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas, and Sparkle. She’s set to return alongside Ice Cube and Kevin Hart in 2016 sequel Ride Along 2 and will star opposite Queen Latifah in Dee Rees’ HBO biopic Bessie.
Sumpter, Tanne, and Allain are repped by WME, whose Charles King brought the principals together. Sumpter is additionally repped by Brookside Artists Management and Franklin, Weinrib, Rudell & Vassallo. Tanne is repped by Dobre Films and attorney Debbie Von Arx. Allain is repped by attorney Marcy Morris.