Danielle Deadwyler & Whoopi Goldberg Join Chinonye Chukwu’s Orion Film Till

Chinonye Chukwu’s Orion feature film Till has set Danielle Deadwyler as Mamie Till-Mobley and Oscar-winner Whoopi Goldberg as Emmett’s grandmother Alma Carthan.

Till follows Mamie Till-Mobley, whose pursuit of justice for her 14-year-old son Emmett Louis Till became a galvanizing moment that helped lead to the creation of the civil rights movement. Mamie’s decision to have an open casket at Emmett’s funeral, and to have Jet magazine publish David Jackson’s funeral photos, was driven by her motivation to ensure people everywhere knew what had happened to her son.

Chukwu, whose Clemency won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival 2019, wrote the screenplay based on a previous draft by Keith Beauchamp and Michael J P Reilly. Beauchamp accumulated a bulk of research for his award winning 2005 documentary The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till. Producers are Beauchamp, Barbara Broccoli, Goldberg, Thomas K Levine, Reilly and Frederick Zollo. Production starts in September in Atlanta, GA.

Said Chukwu, “I’m honored to be partnering with MGM’s Orion Pictures and an incredible producing team in telling a story that will delve deeply into the humanities of Mamie and Emmett, the love and joy they shared, and the activist consciousness that grows within Mamie as she seeks justice for her son. I’m thrilled to be working with Danielle, a powerhouse of an actor, who will bring a brilliant complexity and groundedness to her portrayal of Mamie. And it is a dream come true to be working with the legendary Whoopi Goldberg, especially in telling this story.”

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Said Deadwyler, “It is a gift to learn the legacy and intimacies of our ancestors, those familial and communal, as is the life of Mamie Till-Mobley, a public leader and mother of the movement. I am charged with humility and great will to embody her life at such an integral moment of personal tragedy and political rebellion, a boon to the civil rights movement, and to represent the joy in the love and life shared between Mamie Till and her beloved Emmett Till. I am grateful for the women who support me as the one to carry the labor of this embodiment and as an inheritor of such a lineage. Much gratitude for Chinonye Chukwu, Barbara Broccoli, Whoopi Goldberg, Alana Mayo, and Pam Abdy, amongst many others, for the undertaking we seek to uplift and transfigure with this film.”

“We have waited a very long time to bring this historically necessary important film to people,” says Goldberg. “And as we watch the repression of American History when it comes to people of color it makes it even that more important. I couldn’t be with better people: Fred, Barbara, Chinonye, Keith, Michael and Danielle.”

Orion Pictures’ President Alana Mayo said, “Mamie Till-Mobley was a singular voice who led the way for countless others who came after in her fight for justice. Our visionary writer/director Chinonye Chukwu, and stellar producing team of Keith Beauchamp, Barbara Broccoli, Whoopi Goldberg, Thomas K Levine, Michael J P Reilly and Frederick Zollo, have worked tirelessly to bring her story to audiences everywhere and we are incredibly proud and humbled to join them in bringing Mamie’s story to the big screen.”

Deadwyler starred in the HBO Emmy winning series Watchmen as well as HBO Max’s Station Eleven and Spectrum’s Paradise Lost. Goldberg won Best Supporting Actress at the Oscars for 1990’s Ghost. Her feature credits include The Color Purple, the Sister Act franchise, Toy Story 3, Ghosts of Mississippi, The Player, and CBS All Access’ The Stand. 

Orion Pictures’ upcoming feature slate includes Billy Porter’s What If?, Sarah Polley’s Women Talking, Emma Seligman’s Bottoms, and a film adaptation of Michelle Zauner’s New York Times best-selling memoir Crying in H Mart, which Zauner will adapt for the screen.

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