Musical biopics are red hot right now, so are movies that capture the black experience and the civil rights movement. That makes the upcoming biopic on gospel music legend and activist Mahalia Jackson a movie that has tremendous potential, especially with Jill Scott, Queen Latifah, and Jamie Foxx involved.
Deadline reports the Grammy-winning Jill Scott will star in Mahalia!, a biopic in which she’ll play the great gospel singer Mahalia Jackson. Queen Latifah and Jamie Foxx will exec-produce the film, adapted from the novel Mahalia Jackson by Darlene Donloe.
Also on board is exec-producer Holly Carter, and while her name may not be as big, it’s important. She’s one of the people behind the recent Lifetime biopic, The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel.
Known for her contralto voice, Mahalia Jackson was one of the most influential, and wealthiest, performers in the world at a time when gospel music was not as popular. The New Orleans native rose from poverty to become a platinum-selling artist and a mentor to Aretha Franklin. She was also deeply involved in the civil rights movement, and the reported influence behind Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Harry Belafonte once referred to Jackson as “the single most powerful Black woman in the United States”.
Another Mahalia Jackson biopic, one developed for Lifetime for star Danielle Brooks (Orange is the New Black) and director Kenny Leon, is in the works but does not have the singer’s full music catalog the way Mahalia! does.
Scott has found nearly as much success acting as in her bestselling career as a singer and poet. She currently appears in The CW series Black Lightning as the villain Lady Eve, and played James Brown’s wife in biopic Get On Up. I’ll remember her for the HBO series The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, a show that should’ve lasted longer than it did. She and Queen Latifah previously worked together on the Steel Magnolias remake and Flint, a movie about the Flint, Michigan water crisis.