Viola Davis To Star As Rep. Shirley Chisholm In Amazon Movie

Viola Davis To Star As Rep. Shirley Chisholm In Amazon Movie

This combination photo shows actress Viola Davis, during the Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto on Sept. 9, 2018, left, and Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, D-N.Y., the first black woman elected to Congress, in 1971. Davis is gearing up to play groundbreaking politician in a film for Amazon Studios. The company said Thursday, Nov. 29, that Davis has signed on to star in and produce the project about Chisholm, who was also the first woman to seek the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. (AP Photo)


Oscar winner Viola Davis will produce and star in “The Fighting Shirley Chisholm,” a film about the U.S. Representative who was the first Black woman elected to Congress and the first Black candidate to seek a major political party’s nomination for president.

The trailblazing congresswoman ran in 1968 for the U.S. House of Representatives with the campaign slogan “unbought and unbossed” in New York’s 12th congressional district. She was ridiculed for her efforts and endured a bigoted backlash but never backed down, Deadline reported.

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In the legislature, she was credited with getting unemployment benefits extended to domestic workers and championed giving disadvantaged students the chance to enter college.

That was 50 years ago. Last week, on what would have been Chisholm’s 94th birthday, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office announced a monument would be built in her honor at the Parkside entrance to Prospect Park. New York City has almost 150 statues of men and five honoring women, according to The Cut. Chisholm was nominated for the statue by New Yorkers.

Here are some of those submissions:

O. from Brooklyn

As a young woman of color, there is a dearth of other women of color in our history books. Shirley Chisholm was a badass, and she deserves her own damn monument.”

M. from Sunnyside

Chisholm’s story is the embodiment of the American Dream, and her trailblazing nature is quintessentially New York. A Brooklyn-born daughter of working-class immigrants, she was unapologetically ambitious; to this day, our society is still uncomfortable with ambitious women, particularly women of color. She was so many firsts: first black woman elected to Congress, first black candidate for a major party nomination, and the first woman to run for Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. She faced opposition from all sides, and yet she persisted … I think that it’s time to show the power of NYC’s women, immigrants, and their “unbought and unbossed” courage in taking on the status-quo.”

An authority on early education and child welfare, Chisholm got interested in politics after running a daycare center. She was a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus in 1971.

Chisholm 1970 autobiography was called “Unbought and Unbossed.” When Chisholm died in 2005 at age 80, those same words were inscribed on her vault, where she was laid to rest in the Oakwood Mausoleum at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo, New York.

Davis, who co-runs JuVee Productions with actor-producer husband Julius Tennon, will be producing and starring in the film, Deadline reported. She said they are “beyond excited” about their 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. “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.”

Los Angeles-based JuVee Productions develops and produces independent films, TV, theater, and digital content with a diverse range of voices. Davis won an Oscar for her supporting role in Denzel Washington’s “Fences” in 2017 in addition to a Golden Globe and SAG award for her performance. She won a drama Primetime Emmy in 2015 for her lead actress role in ABC/Shondaland’s “How to Get Away With Murder.”

“The Fighting Shirley Chisholm” screenplay will be directed by Maggie Betts, whose debut feature “Novitiate” was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. The screenplay was written by Emmy-nominated writer Adam Countee (“Silicon Valley”, “Community” and “Mindy Project”).