EXCLUSIVE: All pieces have fallen into place for Steel, a thriller drama set in 1970s London, starring and executive produced by Cynthia Erivo (Genius: Aretha Franklin, The Outsider). The project, teased by MRC Television President Elise Henderson in her Deadline interview in June, will be directed by Francis Lawrence (The Hunger Games franchise) and executive produced by Matt Charman (The Mothership, Bridge of Spies). It is being taken out to the marketplace by MRC Television and Civic Center Media, the indie studio’s venture with UTA.
Written by Adam Gyngell and Fred Fernandez Armesto, Steel chronicles a self-made woman’s rise to power. It centers on Madeline Crowe (Erivo), a fiercely ambitious arms dealer who seizes control of her own destiny in a high-octane and dangerous profession dominated by her male colleagues. The daughter of Nigerian immigrants, driven by an insatiable hunger to win at all costs, yet beholden to her son as a single mother, Crowe is forced to confront the kind of person, deep down, she really is. Steel explores how choices made by individuals desperate in pursuit of money and power shape the geopolitical landscape of our present, and how women like Madeline were the vanguards.
“We love that it is a role that exploits Cynthia’s ability to convey intellect and emotional depth while also being – for lack of a better term – a badass,” Henderson said in June about the project, which stems from MRC Television and Civic Center Media’s first-look deal with Erivo.
Executive producing Steel are Erivo and Solome Williams via their Edith’s Daughter banner, Charman via Binocular, Lawrence and Cameron MacConomy of about: blank, as well as Gyngell and Armesto. Binocular’s Valery Ryan and Annelie Simmons co-executive produce.
Steel, inspired by the life of Armesto’s grandmother and her career as a secret agent selling arms for the British government, was developed and brought to MRC Television and Civic Center Media by Binocular, Charman’s London-based production company, along with Lawrence and MacConomy’s about: blank. Edith’s Daughter VP Solome Williams shepherded the project for the company alongside Charman.
Erivo, a Grammy, Emmy, and Tony-winning actress, singer, songwriter and producer, burst onto West End and Broadway stages in The Color Purple. Her starring role in Harriet earned her two Oscar nominations for Lead Actress and Best Original Song. In TV, Erivo is currently nominated for an Emmy for her portrayal of Aretha Franklin in National Geographic’s Genius: Aretha.
This September, Erivo will be releasing her solo debut album “Ch 1. Vs. 1”. and will be publishing debut children’s book, “Remember to Dream, Ebere.” Erivo recently wrapped production on two projects; Apple TV+’s Roar, a female-driven anthology and Disney’s live-action retelling of Pinocchio, directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring Tom Hanks. It was recently announced that Erivo will star in and produce a remake of The Rose for Searchlight. She is repped by UTA, Authentic Talent and Literary Management and Peikoff Mahan.
Gyngell and Armesto have written episodes on White Dragon for Amazon/ITV and Shogun for FX. They are repped by CAA, Grandview, and Saylescreen.
Lawrence is in post-production on Slumberland starring Jason Momoa for Netflix. He is repped by CAA, 3 Arts and Hansen, Jacobson.
Charman, who was nominated for an Oscar for his Bridge of Spies screenplay with Joel and Ethan Cohen, recently wrapped his directorial debut with MRC Film, The Mothership, for Netflix, starring Halle Berry. He is repped by CAA, Grandview, Independent Talent Group, and Hansen Jacobson.