EXCLUSIVE: David Steward II’s Lion Forge Films, which won an Oscar last year for short film Hair Love, has inked a deal with Scott 34 Racing to make films, TV series, digital content and games based on the life of sporting pioneer Wendell Scott, NASCAR’s first Black racer and owner.
Scott’s story is a remarkable one. Born in rural Virginia in 1921 when racial segregation was enforced by law, his love and knowledge of cars was passed down from his father, and after serving as a mechanic in WWII (in a segregated division), he was denied access to NASCAR due to the color of his skin.
Scott spent nine years in the “Dixie Circuit,” a smaller regional competitor to NASCAR, until he was finally able to persuade the organization to grant him a license to race in 1953 – officially breaking the sport’s color barrier.
The pioneering racer won the Jacksonville 200 race in 1963 – only to see the win given to a white driver on a “clerical error” (later reversed). After competing in 496 NASCAR races, with 147 Top 10 finishes, a horrific near-death crash in 1973 ended his career. Scott died of cancer in 1990 and was officially inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2015, becoming the first African-American to do so in NASCAR history.
Scott was the subject of the 1977 film Greased Lightning starring Richard Pryor, and inspired the character of River Scott in Disney/Pixar’s Cars 3.
Immediately being put into development by Steward II and the newly minted Wendell Scott Ventures team are a docuseries and a fictionalized limited series for TV/streaming that, through the lens of his life, will cover themes of family, racism, American culture and racing. The series will tell stories of Scott’s upbringing, time in WWII, bootlegging, raising a family, battling racism, breaking color barriers, overcoming adversity, and of course – winning.
Steward II will work in partnership with Wendell Scott’s son, Frank Scott, and grandson, Warrick Scott, on all the content opportunities.
Steward II is the son of billionaire businessman David Steward and brother of Kimberly Steward, whose K Period Media has invested in movies including Manchester By The Sea and Suspiria. His banner Lion Forge Animation is one of the only African American-run animation studios in the world.
Recent deals for Lion Forge include a Hair Love spinoff series called Young Love for HBO Max, an exclusive first-look partnership with Imagine Kids+Family, and a multi-year joint venture partnership with Chinese studio Starlight Media.
Said Steward II: “It’s an honor and privilege to work with the Scott family to bring Wendell’s legacy to life in a multitude of ways, all of which carry the dual obligation to entertain while delivering an important message. What Jackie Robinson did for baseball in breaking the color barrier, Wendell Scott did for NASCAR. However, Wendell’s story transcends his sport, his personality, and his accomplishments to speak about the possibility of hope and drive. These are stories that need to be told – and retold.”
“Wendell Scott built a bridge to diversity in racing, so NASCAR needs to tell that story through the lens of Wendell Scott. He gave people hope because he had a big heart for everyone. He had more love in his heart than (his enemies) had hate in theirs,” commented Warrick Scott, Wendell’s grandson.
Added Frank Scott Sr: “The creation of this venture is the realization of a dream my father had 60 years ago, it’s everything that he wanted and could never get!”
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