Film/TV

Viola Davis Will Play Shirley Chisholm

Viola Davis is slated to star in and produce a historical drama about political trailblazer Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to congress, Deadline reports. Chisholm, a civil rights icon, who fought fiercely to improve the lives of her district in Brooklyn, was also both the first person of color and the first woman to seek a major political party's nomination for president in 1972, hoping to challenge Richard Nixon.

Amazon won a fierce bidding war for the title, The Fighting Shirley Chisholm, and will share production credits with Juvee Productions, the company that Davis co-runs with her husband Julius Tennon.

"JuVee Productions is beyond excited about our new relationship with Amazon Studios. We share the same vision of creating a vast and rich array of narratives that are inclusive and reflective of our world," Davis said in a statement about the film. "We started this company with a fierce commitment to integrity and the encouragement of emerging and/or established artists who have the courage and talent to be disruptors. We are thrilled that we can continue to share our vision on a global scale alongside Amazon Studios. It is our legacy."

The film will be directed by Maggie Betts (Novitiate), and the screenplay written by Adam Countee (Silicon Valley, Community, Mindy Project).

Although Chisholm, who died in 2005 lost her nomination bid, largely ignored by the political establishment, black male congressional leadership, and the women's movement, she's credited with opening up a path for Black women to congress, and today is championed by younger generations. Chisholm was known for her infectious charisma and confrontational boldness. One of her most famous quips: "If they don't give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair."

This year Lena Waithe wore a hoodie emblazoned with Chisholm's face on it to the MTV awards, where she was honored with the Trailblazer Award for becoming the first black women to win an Emmy for writing a comedy series.

Her story will have particular resonance in the new year, when record numbers of women, people of color, young people, and non-incumbents are headed to congress to demand change.

Photo via BFA

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