EXCLUSIVE: Tony winner Tonya Pinkins has been tapped to co-star opposite Adrienne Warren in ABC’s limited series Women of the Movement, from creator-writer Marissa Jo Cerar and a producing team that includes Jay-Z, Will Smith and Aaron Kaplan.
The six-episode limited series, set to premiere in 2021, centers on Mamie Till-Mobley (Warren), who devoted her life to seeking justice for her son Emmett Till. Pinkins will play Alma, Emmett Till’s grandmother. She replaces Niecy Nash, who was originally cast in the role but exited the project for personal reasons.
After Emmett’s murder in Mississippi, Alma, a young grandmother who had been like a second mother to Emmett, fought to protect her family in Chicago while her daughter Mamie travelled the country seeking justice in Emmett’s name. A force of nature, Alma was Mamie’s rock in the face of unbelievable tragedy.
Women of the Movement is inspired by the book Emmett Till: The Murder That Shocked the World and Propelled the Civil Rights Movement by Devery S. Anderson. Cerar serves as showrunner and executive produces with Jay-Z, Jay Brown and Tyran “Ty Ty” Smith via Roc Nation; Smith and James Lassiter for Overbrook; as well as Kaplan, Dana Honor and Michael Lohmann of Kapital Entertainment. Also executive producing are Gina Prince-Bythewood, who will direct the first episode, Rosanna Grace for Serendipity Group Inc.; Alex Foster and John Powers Middleton of Middleton Media Group; and David Clark via Mazo Partners. Kapital is the studio.
The series today is holding its first table read. Filming is slated to begin Monday in Mississippi where the project has built a quarantine bubble with the essential production team only overseen by EP and Kapital’s head of production Lohmann, who will be on site for the duration of the shoot.
A renowned theater actress, Pinkins is a three-time Tony nominee, winning the award in 1992 for Jelly’s Last Jam. On TV, she is probably best known for her role as Livia Fry on All My Children. She has recurred on such series as 24, Gotham, Madam Secretary, Fear the Walking Dead and God Friended Me as well as limited series 11.22.63.
Pinkins is the 2020 recipient of the Franky Award and the Rachel Crothers Leadership Award. She is 2019-2022 Fulbright Specialist. She is also writer, director and producer of the upcoming feature film Red Pill, which is premiering in February. Described as a scary wake-up call about American politics, the film tackles such themes as the weaponization of whiteness and white supremacy.
A published author, Pinkins teaches privately and at The Atlantic Theater School’s NYU program. Her podcast You Can’t Say That is on the Broadway Podcast Network. She is repped by Megan Lohne & Pete Kaiser at The Talent House New York and Buchwald for directing.