EXCLUSIVE: Yeardley Smith and Ben Cornwell’s Paperclip Ltd is developing an adaption of Ami Polonsky’s coming-of-age transgender young adult novel Gracefully Grayson with non-binary filmmaker Henry Alberto on board to write the script for the feature.
Gracefully Grayson tells the story of the titular sixth-grader Grayson Sender, who has been holding on to a secret — that she is a trans girl. Sharing that secret could mean rejection, ridicule, or worse. After a tragedy occurs, an unexpected friendship helps Grayson learn to inhabit the spotlight she was born to shine in.
Polonsky’s novel has become required reading for many schools across the country and the news comes at a time when authentic storytelling and representation are paramount. The choice of tapping Alberto as the writer further moves the needle when it comes to inclusivity behind the camera as much as it does in front of it.
“I’m overwhelmed with joy to bring this magical story to life alongside Yeardley and Ben. It’s a responsibility I do not take lightly” said Alberto. “Grayson touched my soul in ways I may never be able to explain. My biggest hope is that Grayson will inspire people to embrace and celebrate all of who they are despite what the rest of the world may be telling them. Because, like Grayson and I, it’s far scarier not to.”
Smith adds, “I feel like Grayson’s journey from self-discovery to self-acceptance is a universal one that anyone with a heartbeat can relate to. Add to that, with Henry’s track record of adapting poignant stories in the YA space, always with wit and flawless candor, they were the perfect choice to adapt the screenplay for Grayson.”
Alberto is a Sundance Episodic Lab fellow and is a recipient of a Latino Screenwriting Project fellowship. They also are an alumnus of the Outfest Screenwriting Lab and was part of the Black List’s inaugural Latinx List. They most recently adapted the novel Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe and served as a writer on AppleTV’s critically acclaimed Little America from Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon.
Gracefully Grayson adds to Paperclip’s slate of inclusive films. Last year, Deadline exclusively reported the production of their GLAAD-advised featured Gossamar Folds starring Alexandra Grey (Transparent, When We Rise) and Jackson Robert Scott (It). Directed by Lisa Donato and written by Bridget Flanery, the film tells the story of ten-year-old Tate (Scott) who is uprooted from the big city a small town where he befriends his new next-door neighbors, recently retired English professor, Edward Bryant (Ojeda Smith) and his transgender daughter, Gossamer (Grey).
Paperclip is repped by ICM Partners, attorney Tye Gonser, and Metro Public Relations. Alberto is repped by Verve, Jairo Alvarado and Circle of Confusion, and attorney Mark Temple.