Look out, Oscars: Viola Davis to play a Houston hero in new movie with a lesbiantwist
Here's good news for the folks who were upset to see some of Hollywood's most talented black actresses playing maids in The Help. Viola Davis is set to produce and star in a movie about legendary African-American congresswoman Barbara Jordan.
A civil rights leader who grew up Houston's Fifth Ward, Jordan was the first African-American woman elected to the Texas Senate in 1966 and the second African-American woman elected to Congress, serving from 1973 until her retirement from politics in 1979.
This could be the meatiest role yet for Davis, who already has two Academy Award nominations for her performances in The Help and Doubt.
Jordan gained national exposure during the Watergate trials and delivered a memorable speech as the keynote speaker at the 1976 Democratic Convention. Though she never publicly discussed her sexuality, Jordan also had a 30-year lesbian relationship with educational psychologist Nancy Earl.
"In a world of movies about giants and Martians and toys come to life, if you can actually get involved with a movie about a human who single-handedly changed American politics, you say 'yes,' " director Paris Barclay told Variety.
The Barbara Jordan biopic is being developed by Davis and her husband Julius Tennon, under their JuVee Productions banner. The script is based on Mary Beth Rogers' biography Barbara Jordan: American Hero. It sounds like Davis, Barclay and producers Shelly Glasser and Diane Nabatoff have been trying to get the movie into production for years, but it took Davis' rising star power to get everything in motion.
"If you think about Jordan as being one of the most commanding and articulate speakers of her era, who else would you think of (for the role) than Viola Davis," Nabatoff told Variety. "She is so commanding, and she's got the voice."
According to director Barclay, this could be the meatiest role yet for Davis, who already has two Academy Award nominations for her performances in The Help and Doubt.
"We're hoping this becomes a movie that shows the world everything that Viola can do. People haven't seen everything that she's capable of, and this role is so powerful."