Last year, 23-year-old Kennesaw State University graduate Lauren Simmons was the youngest full-time female trader, second Black woman and only woman at the time trading full-time on the New York Stock Exchange floor.
Simmons’ trailblazing story is being made into a film produced by — and starring — Kiersey Clemons, a 24-year-old actress who made her feature film debut just a few years ago as Cassandra “Diggy” Andrews in Rick Famuyiwa’s Sundance hit “Dope,” Deadline reported.
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Now 24, Simmons earned her place in history in 2017 after landing a job as an equity trader for Rosenblatt Securities at age 23, according to CNBC.
She has signed a deal with production company AGC Studios to turn her inspiring story into a film.
Simmons moved to New York after graduating in December 2016 from Kennesaw State University, about 30 miles northwest of Atlanta. Her degree was in genetics but a love of math drove her to pursue finance instead. Applying for a job through LinkedIn, she was hired at Rosenblatt Securities, contingent upon passing the Series 19, an exam that all floor brokers must pass to earn their badge. About 80 percent of test takers fail the Series 19.
Despite a love of math, Simmons had not studied finance in college.
“I had a month to take the exam,” she told CNBC, “and when I tell you a lot of people did not think I was going to pass, they really did not think I was going to pass”.
When she passed, “it shocked everyone,” she said. It also eased her doubts about whether she could manage the role and proved to the men on the floor that she was equipped to work alongside them.
What’s it like to work on the floor of the NYSE?
“It’s a bit of a men’s club, and it has always been that way,” said Peter Tuchman, a much-photographed trader on Wall Street who has been with the NYSE since 1985. “Why are there no women in this business? It’s because men suck,” Tuchman told CNBC.
Tuchman describes a locker-room mentality unfriendly to women where men use bad language, a lot of screaming, yelling, “and it’s super high stress,” he said. “It’s not that women can’t deal with high stress, it’s just not where women went.”
It’s a hard place for women to feel welcome and that needs to change, Tuchman said.
“We see it in every part of corporate America and we’re seeing it even more now with #MeToo,” he says. “The environment towards women still hasn’t changed in so many respects — and it must change.”
Clemons, who’ll be starring as Simmons, is not yet a familiar name, according to Siobhan Spera writing for FilmSchoolRejects.com. However, Clemons’s star recently rose with a Sundance breakout, Brett Haley’s musical drama, “Hearts Beat Loud”.
Being a young Black woman in the industry, Clemons will be able to offer a perspective that is so seldom heard from among her peers. Her contributions to this film will inform the overall shape it takes, and she will be able to ensure the film has a certain layer of authenticity to it, as opposed to if the project were overseen solely by, say, a group of white men.”
Multiple production studios reached out to Simmons in June to discuss developing a film after CNBC told the story of her journey in a profile and video.
Simmons said she ultimately decided on AGC Studios because of Clemons:
“I got to meet Kiersey and felt she resembled me a lot. She has such a beautiful personality and she genuinely wanted to share my story. Out of everyone that I met, I knew that she would do it very (honestly), and not make it into a story that isn’t true.”
The project will be the debut film for Clemons’ new production company, Girl on Mercury, which she is launching with longtime AGC managers Eddie Galan and Starr Andreeff. AGC recently announced it will finance and produce the romantic comedy, “The Perfect Find,” based on the best-selling book by Tia Williams and starring Gabrielle Union.