EXCLUSIVE: Days after Oscar winner Viola Davis and Julius Tennon’s JuVee Productions announced a first look feature production deal with Amazon Studios, the first project is moving forward: The Fighting Shirley Chisholm in which Davis will produce and star as the U.S. Representative who was both the first woman and the first person of color to seek a major American political party’s nomination for President.
Amazon studios acquired the title in what we understand was a fierce bidding war, with Homegrown Pictures’ Stephanie Allain (Hustle & Flow, Dear White People) and Mel Jones producing with JuVee. Maggie Betts (Novitiate) will direct the screenplay written by Emmy-nominated writer Adam Countee (Silicon Valley, Community, Mindy Project).
Countee had long been interested in telling Chisholm’s story and his research led him to write the feature script on spec about the trailblazing congresswoman who never backed down as her bid drew ridicule and bigoted backlash. Chisholm ran for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1968 from New York’s 12th congressional district and became the first black woman elected to Congress. In January 1972 she announced her presidential bid in a Baptist church in her Brooklyn district. That election ended with George McGovern getting the Democratic nomination and losing to incumbent Republican President Richard Nixon.
Davis can currently be seen starring in the critically acclaimed Widows from director Steve McQueen and stars in Amazon Studio’s Troupe Zero, alongside Alison Janney and Jim Gaffigan. Davis won an Oscar for her supporting role in Denzel Washington’s feature adaptation of August Wilson’s Fences in 2017 in addition to a Golden Globe and SAG award for her performance. She won a drama Primetime Emmy in 2015 for her lead actress role in ABC/Shondaland’s How to Get Away With Murder. Davis is the first black actress to be nominated for three Oscars, and one of the few to have an Emmy, Oscar and Tony Award win.
Davis is repped by CAA, Lasher Group and Lichter, Grossman, Nichols, Adler & Feldman Inc. Betts is repped by CAA and Brillstein Entertainment Partners. Homegrown Pictures is repped by UTA, Artists First and Jackoway Austen Tyerman Wertheimer Mandelbaum Morris Bernstein Trattner & Klein. Countee is repped by UTA and 3Arts. Homegrown is dedicated to creating content by and about women and people of color with authentic stories, depictions and representation with the company amassing more than 100 award nominations with wins from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Film Independent Spirit Awards, Sundance Film Festival, the NAACP and more.
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