EXCLUSIVE: Annaleigh Ashford, who won the Tony in 2015 for You Can’t Take It With You and appeared in American Crime Story: Versace, has scored the lead role in Smart Blonde, a timely movie about about Oscar-winning actress Judy Holliday.

Gene Kirkwood, a producer on the original Rocky who more recenlty produced HBO’s four-
part Dr. Dre-Jimmy Iovine docu The Defiant Ones, is producing.

The film will focus on Holliday, a nightclub singer who in her early acting career in the 1940s fought back against the overt sexual advances of studio mogul Darryl F. Zanuck during her time as a day player at Fox. She later went on to star on Broadway in Born Yesterday, then won the Best Actress Oscar for George Cukor’s big-screen adaptation starring alongside William Holden and Broderick Crawford.

Holliday paid the price for being outspoken, eventually blacklisted in Hollywood as a communist. She died of breast cancer in 1965 at age 43.

“Judy Holiday’s story is one for the ages and yet so relatable within the context of today’s headlines,” Kirkwood said.

Ashford just wrapped shooting Bad Education opposite Hugh Jackman and Allison Janney and next appears in Unbelievable, the Netflix limited series starring Merritt Wever, Toni Collette and Kaitlyn Dever. She played Elizabeth Cote in Ryan Murphy’s Versace, and her credits also include Showtime’s Masters of Sex.

Ashford is repped by ICM Partners, Beth Rosner Management and Schreck Rose.