EXCLUSIVE: Anthony Mackie has set his feature directorial debut with Spark. The drama will star Saniyya Sidney as Claudette Colvin, an unsung pioneer of the Civil Rights era. Sidney is coming off a breakout performance as Venus Williams in King Richard. Mackie is producing with Kellon Akeem, Jason Michael Berman and Marc Ambrose.
Colvin was 15-years-old when she bravely stood up to racism, getting arrested after refusing to give up her seat on a crowded segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama. This was nine months before Rosa Parks became a symbol of the Civil Rights era symbol for courageously doing essentially the same thing. Initially embraced by Civil Rights leaders for her courage, Colvin was brushed out of history when those same civic leaders decided a poor, dark-skinned teenage girl would not be the ideal face for their public campaign.
The film will be a co-production between Make it with Gravy Productions, Mansa Productions, Mandalay Pictures in Association with Ambergreen Entertainment. Niceole R. Levy, who worked with Mackie on The Banker, is writing it. The filmmakers have the life rights of Colvin and are working with her family. They’ve also secured rights to Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose.
Said Colvin: “67 years ago, when history glued me to the seat of that bus in Montgomery, I could never have imagined that standing up for my rights could spark a movement that would change the course of history. It is really an honor to have my story retold, by Mr. Mackie, for future generations to learn about our past so they can move forward knowing that progress is possible, and things do get better. I hope my story will inspire youth to continue to fight for civil rights and human dignity.”
Mackie said that he came across the story of Claudette Colvin during a visit to the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. Much the way that the story of entrepreneur Bernard Garrett sparked him to star in the George Nolfi-directed The Banker, he felt Colvin’s story needed to be told after all these years.
“Not only was I moved, I was inspired,” he said. “It’s great to be a superhero in movies but she’s a real live one living amongst us and I’m honored to tell her story.”
Actress Sidney has drawn strong reviews for her performance opposite Will Smith in King Richard, and she will next be seen playing Sasha Obama in Showtime’s The First Lady, which stars Viola Davis.
Mackie, who recently starred in the Rupert Wyatt-directed Desert Warrior and is set to play Captain America in the fourth movie in the Marvel franchise, is represented by UTA and Inspire Entertainment; Colvin is repped by Roseboro Holdings, Levy by WME and The Shuman Company. Saniyya Sidney is represented by CAA, Transcend Talent Management and Ziffren Brittenham.
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