EXCLUSIVE: Ciera Payton (The Oval, She’s Gotta Have It) and Morocco Omari (P-Valley, Empire) are set as the leads in Wendy Williams: The Hot Topic (working title), Lifetime’s biopic about the outspoken television host and former radio star executive produced by Will Packer and Sheila Ducksworth. Payton will star in the title role as Williams, and Omari will play Wendy’s ex-husband Kevin Hunter. Additionally, Darren Grant (The Chi, God Friended Me) is set to direct. Debuting in 2021, the film will be paired with a feature-length documentary on Williams. Production begins this month.
Executive produced by Williams, the authorized biopic reveals the highs and lows Williams has experienced throughout the years, from her scrappy upstart days in urban radio to the success of her own syndicated talk show.
A feature-length documentary about the self-anointed Queen of all Media will follow the movie. In it, Williams sheds her private persona and speaks directly to the camera from her Manhattan apartment, discussing the joy and the humiliation she has experienced since childhood.
The biopic is produced by Front Street for Lifetime and executive produced by Williams, Packer (Girls Trip, Roots) and Ducksworth (Soul Food, Ambitions). Grant will direct from a script written by Leigh Davenport (Run the World, Boomerang) and Scarlett Lacey (Magnum P.I., The Royals). The documentary is produced by eOne and Creature Films for Lifetime. Tara Long, Mark Ford, Kevin Lopez, Sarah Girgis and Joie Jacoby also executive produce. Brie Bryant and Gena McCarthy serve as executive producers for Lifetime.
Payton portrays Lilly Winthrop on Tyler Perry’s The Oval, which recently wrapped production on its second season at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta in a quarantine bubble. Her other credits include the role of Jameelah Hawkins in She’s Gotta Have It. She is repped by Pakula/King & Associates and Zero Gravity Management.
Omari was most recently seen as Big L in Starz’s P-Valley, which has been renewed for a second season. He’s also known for his role as Tariq in Fox’s Empire. Omari is repped by Industry Entertainment and Darrell Miller at Fox Rothschild.
Grant’s directing credits include The Chi, God Friended Me, Legacies, and Scream: The TV Series among others. He is repped by APA and Zero Gravity Management.