The life story of late pioneering Black businessman Reginald F. Lewis is being turned into a film by Charles D. King’s media company, Macro, and Franklin Leonard’s The Black List, which features Hollywood’s unproduced screenplays.
In the 1980s, Lewis ran the largest Black-owned U.S. company, the first to generate sales of more than a billion dollars a year and to pull off a billion-dollar leveraged buyout, The Wall Street Journal reported.
King is founder and CEO of a multi-platform media company representing the Black perspective. The Black List is a Hollywood industry platform for film and TV writers to showcase their screenplays.
The biopic will be based on Lewis’ bestselling 2005 autobiography, “Why Should White Guys Have All the Fun?” It will chronicle how Lewis rose to become the richest African American in the U.S., Variety reported. In 1987, Lewis became the first African-American to raise a billion dollars with his $1 billion acquisition of Beatrice International Foods, making it the largest Black-owned business in the U.S.
The film will follow Lewis as he broke glass ceilings from growing up in a tough Baltimore neighborhood to Harvard Law School, where he was the first person ever admitted without taking the LSAT and before even applying. The film will cover his time on Wall Street, when he practiced at a blue-chip Wall Street law firm, and his takeover of Beatrice. It will include his tragic, sudden death in 1993 at age 50 from a brain tumor at the height of his career.
In 1993, Forbes listed Lewis among the 400 richest Americans with a net worth estimated at $400 million.
The film will also address how systemic racism takes a toll on the progression of social status for Lewis and other Black American businesspeople.
Reginald Lewis was the largest living donor to Harvard Law School in its 175-year history at the time of his $3 million donation in 1992. The school renamed its International Law Center the Reginald F. Lewis International Law Center, the first building on Harvard’s campus named in honor of a Black American, Deadline reported.
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Producing along with King and Leonard are Macro executives Jelani Johnson and Poppy Hanks. Lewis’ widow Loida Lewis and his daughters Christina and Leslie Lewis will be executive producers of the project. Josh Green also serves as an executive producer, while Chris Lyons is billed as co-producer, Variety reported.
A writer and director are yet to be attached to the film project.
Photo: Reginald Lewis by Sam.vaghani, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=User:Sam.vaghani&action=edit&redlink=1