EXCLUSIVE: Alfre Woodard has joined Alfred Molina and Michelle Monaghan in the indie feature Saint Judy, about a landmark immigration case that changed the way women are treated around the world. Woodard will play Judge Benton, who is crucial to determining the path that a young lawyer (Monaghan) takes when she tries to help an Afghani immigrant woman.
The biopic is one of myriad stories surrounding Los Angeles immigration attorney Judy Wood, who argued the case that changed the asylum laws for women coming into the U.S. Sean Hanish is directing the project, which began shooting today.
The film is being produced by Hanish and Cannonball Productions’ Paul Jaconi-Biery. Cannonball is the outfit that secured Wood’s life rights and developed the story with writer Dmitry Portnoy. Wood had a number of interns working with her over the years, and Portnoy was one of them while he was in Pepperdine law school. Kelly Kahl is serving as executive producer.
Woodard is an four-time Emmy winner, 17-time nominee and has an Academy Award nom for her role in Cross Creek. She next will star in and has an exec producing credit on the indie drama Juanita, directed by Clark Johnson. Netflix recently acquired the film for distribution.
The actress is also an activist and co-founded Artists for a New South Africa, a nonprofit that works to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS. During the Obama administration, the president appointed to her to the his Committee on the Arts and Humanities, where she adopted several high-poverty and under-performing public schools around the country. She also directed and produced Nelson Mandela’s Favorite African Folktales and that was nominated for a Grammy for Best Children’s Spoken Word Album. Using celebrity to make a difference in this world. Nice.
Woodard is repped by ICM Partners, Circle of Confusion and the Gochman Law Group. UTA Independent Film Group is selling Saint Judy for domestic distribution.