Octavia Spencer, Gabrielle Union to produce, star in Deborah Riley Draper’s adaptation of ‘Coffee Will Make You Black’

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Octavia Spencer

Oscar-winning actor Octavia Spencer has announced that she is teaming with Wyolah Films’ Tate Taylor and John Norris and award-winning actress and New York Times best-selling author Gabrielle Union to produce the film version of the seminal novel “Coffee Will Make You Black” under her Orit Productions shingle.

The film will follow a smart, funny and naive African-American teenager finding her voice as she navigates conflicting relationships with her mother, her best friends and her crushes amid racism, sexism and colorism in 1960s Chicago, according to a news release.

“There are so many unheard stories and voices in the African American community that speak to universal themes and the humanity in all of us.  I wanted to use my platform to create more opportunities for directors and writers of color to tell these stories. This project has women of color in lead roles in front of and behind the camera,” Spencer said in a statement.

Union starred in and produced last year’s box office hit “Breaking In” and is filming her “Bad Boys” TV spin-off “LA’s Finest,“ on which she is also an executive producer.

“A smart, funny, poignant coming-of-age film with a young black female protagonist is important to see.  And it is equally important to see the complicated relationship between a black mother and her daughter as they try to succeed and assimilate in a change-resistant America,” Union said in a statement.

African-American writer/director Deborah Riley Draper (“Versailles ’73″ and “Olympic Pride, American Prejudice”) adapted the screenplay based on April Sinclair’s novel and will direct the film.

“Deborah’s voice is original, powerful and exactly the kind of character-driven storytelling that compels me to be a writer and a director,” Taylor said in a statement.

Taylor’s films, which have reached almost a billion dollars at the box office, include “The Help,” “Girl on the Train” and “Get on Up.”  Taylor is in post-production on the upcoming Blumhouse thriller “Ma!” starring Spencer, and the action-thriller “Eve,” starring Jessica Chastain.

Spencer, Taylor and Norris previously worked together on three films. This marks the first collaboration between their companies, Wyolah Films and Orit Productions.


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