In one of Contenders TV’s most emotional panels, Deadline TV reporter Alexandra Del Rosario spoke with creator/showrunner Marissa Jo Cerar and Tony-winning actress Adrienne Warren about the ABC limited series Women of the Movement.
Inspired by the book Emmett Till: The Murder That Shocked the World and Propelled the Civil Rights Movement by Devery S. Anderson, the six-episode limited series is set in 1955. It centers on Mamie Till-Mobley (Warren), who risks her life to find justice after her son Emmett (Cedric Joe) is brutally murdered in the Jim Crow South.
When asked why she chose to tell the story from Mamie Till-Mobley’s point of view, Cerar said she wanted to add a fresh perspective to the tragedy. “Too often these stories are about the cops, and the lawyers, and we are dead bodies, not characters. We don’t actually explore what it’s like to lose your family member–we are victims or martyrs. I wanted to humanize Emmett and Mamie, and Mose and everyone in the family who lost this boy.”
Warren admitted that while she knew about the story of Emmett Till, she knew very little about his mother. “What happened to this young, beautiful boy changed my life, my family’s life, and the lives of everyone in this room. Not knowing enough about the mother who birthed this child, that wasn’t OK with me. When this opportunity was presented to me I was terrified but I knew it was a challenge I would have to dive into, head first.”
She also spoke about the impact of the series, saying it’s rewarding to know that more people will know about Mamie and her fight for justice.
“To hear from teachers who are using it in their curriculums – that is so incredibly important to us and special because it’s still happening today and that means that there is a generation of young people who watch this who are going to move differently throughout the world and throughout space because they now know what happened to this family and to this little boy,” Warren said.
Women of the Movement was conceived as a potential anthology series, and Cerar shared what a potential second installment could be about. ABC has yet to make a renewal decision.
“I’ve written the bible for Season 2. I’m just waiting to see if the network would like to order it. It’s a jump in time. It’s not so close to 1955 at all,” Cerar said. “The family members are alive and I spent months speaking with them and would like to tell their stories. It’s another mother’s story. It’s another story – you might know her name, but you don’t know the people and the lives lost behind the story.”
She added: “It’s closer to the ’80s. It’s all I can say.”
The panel conclude with Warren and Cerar touching on how the series, through its spotlighting on Mamie, can resonate with a larger audience.
“It’s a story about humanity and love and what love – love will make you fight and that is what this show is about,” said Warren.
Added Cerar: “We all have a family and that why we started with his birth and ended with his death. We want to take you through it because Mamie met that little baby just like George Floyd’s mother met him, Trayvon’s mother met him and so we just want you to see yourselves. You see our humanity and we’ll see yours.”
Check out the panel video above.
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