EXCLUSIVE: Gabrielle Union will star in and produce through her I’ll Have Another production banner an adaptation of the April Sinclair novel Coffee Will Make You Black. Octavia Spencer will produce the film through her Orit banner with Union and Wyolah Films’ Tate Taylor and John Norris. The film was scripted and will be directed by Deborah Riley Draper, whose credits include Versailles ’73 and Olympic Pride, American Prejudice.
Union starred in and produced last year’s box office hit Breaking In and is currently filming her Bad Boys TV spin-off LA’s Finest, on which she is an exec producer.
Coffee Will Make You Black follows a smart, funny and naive African American teenage girl finding her voice as she navigates conflicting relationships with her mother, her best friends, and her crushes amid racism, sexism and color-ism in 1960s Chicago.
Said Spencer, whose last collaboration with Taylor brought her the Oscar for The Help: “There are so many unheard stories and voices in the African American community that speak to universal themes and the humanity in all of us. I wanted to use my platform to create more opportunities for directors and writers of color to tell these stories. This project has women of color in lead roles in front of and behind the camera.”
Said Taylor: “Deborah’s voice is original, powerful and exactly the kind of character-driven storytelling that compels me to be a writer and a director.” Taylor is in post-production on the upcoming Blumhouse thriller Ma, which stars Spencer, and the action thriller Eve, which stars The Help‘s Jessica Chastain.
Said Union: “A smart, funny, poignant coming-of-age film with a young black female protagonist is important to see. And it is equally important to see the complicated relationship between a black mother and her daughter as they try to succeed and assimilate in a change-resistant America.”
Spencer, Taylor and Norris previously worked together on three films. This marks the first collaboration between their companies, Wyolah Films and Orit Productions.
Union is repped by CAA and Atlas Artists, Draper is Sharp & Associates. Spencer is WME and Jackoway Austen Tyerman.