Regina King to star in and produce Shirley Chisholm biopic

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Regina King [NBC photo]

Even as she’s building Oscar buzz for her directorial debut “One Night in Miami,” Regina King is lining up another big starring role in front of the camera.

The Academy Award-winning performer (“If Beale Street Could Talk”) will portray trailblazing politician Shirley Chisholm — America’s first Black congresswoman — in the upcoming biopic “Shirley.”

The film will be produced by Participant and is expected to begin later this year, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Written and directed by Oscar winner John Ridley (“12 Years a Slave,” “Jimi: All Is by My Side”), the biopic will chronicle Chisholm’s trailblazing 1972 presidential campaign. Although discrimination dogged her quest for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination — she was blocked from participating in televised primary debates and was allowed to make just one speech, and only after taking legal action — many students, women and minorities followed her “Chisholm Trail.”

“Shirley Chisholm’s fearless determination has been an inspiration to so many of us, and with this film we hope to inspire many generations to come,” King said, per The Hollywood Reporter.

Ridley and King previously worked together on the television series “American Crime.” King twice won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or a Movie for that project.

“Regina’s passion for bringing a complete and very human portrait of Shirley to life has been evident since literally the day we first met. I’m very thankful to both Regina and Reina for trusting me to partner in telling the story of this truly remarkable individual,” Ridley said, per The Hollywood Reporter.

King will produce “Shirley” through her Royal Ties Productions with Regina King. Jeff Skoll and Anikah McLaren will executive produce.

The filmmakers have an exclusive agreement with the Chisholm Estate, giving them access to her life story rights, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

King adds to the already impressive list of actors who has portrayed or will portray Chisholm in recent projects. Uzo Aduba (“Orange Is the New Black”) recently played the groundbreaking congresswoman in the Hulu miniseries “Mrs. America,” while Danai Gurira (Marvel’s “Black Panther”) is attached to portray Chisholm the biopic “The Fighting Shirley Chisholm” from producer Stephanie Allain.

Chisholm became in 1968 the first Black woman elected to the United States Congress, representing New York’s 12th congressional district for seven terms from 1969 to 1983. In 1972, she became the first woman and African American to seek the nomination for president of the United States from one of the two major political parties.

She died in 2005 at the age of 80.


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