In 1955, Emmett Till was just 14 years old when he was lynched in Mississippi, after being accused of flirting with or whistling at a white woman. The brutality of his murder and the fact that his killers were acquitted, drew attention to the long history of violent persecution of African Americans in the United States. Till became an icon of the civil rights movement, due in part to the unrelenting efforts of his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, a major face of racial justice, following her son’s death, devoting her life to the issue until her own passing in 2003. Recently, several projects to bring Emmett’s tragic story to the screen have been announced, each based on different source material.
Chinonye Chukwu, director of the 2019 film Clemency, starring Alfre Woodard, has signed up to direct a feature film about Till’s death. It will also follow the life of his mother Mamie Till-Mobley, whose fight for justice and insistence of an open casket funeral became a launching point for the civil rights movement. The film will be based on the extensive research of award-winning documentarian Keith Beauchamp and his relationship with Mamie Till-Mobley and Emmett Till’s cousin, Simeon Wright who was an eyewitness to the kidnapping of Till and who served as a consultant to the project before his death in 2017. For more than 27 years, Beauchamp has investigated the kidnapping, torture and murder of Emmett Till for whistling at a white woman. His efforts succeeded in getting the United States Department of Justice to reopen the case in 2004. Produced by Whoopie Goldberg and James Bond franchise head Barbara Broccoli, the Chinonye Chukwu-directed film is scheduled to launch production in 2021, coinciding with what would have been Emmett Till’s 80th birthday, on July 25, 1941.
Another project is ABC’s Women of the Movement, a six-episode limited series focusing on Mamie Till Mobley, who devoted her life to seeking justice for her son, following his brutal death. The series, from writer Marissa Jo Cerar and a producing team that includes Jay-Z, Will Smith and Aaron Kaplan, is set to premiere in 2021. Gina Prince-Bythewood (The Old Guard, Shots Fired) is set to direct the first episode of the series, inspired by the book Emmett Till: The Murder That Shocked the World and Propelled the Civil Rights Movement by Devery S. Anderson. Women of the Movement is being written/exec produced by Cerar and executive produced by Jay-Z, Jay Brown and Tyran “Ty Ty” Smith of Roc Nation; Will Smith and James Lassiter of Overbrook Entertainment; Aaron Kaplan, Dana Honor and Michael Lohmann from Kapital Entertainment; Rosanna Grace of Serendipity Film Group; Alex Foster and John Powers Middleton of The Middleton Media Group; and David Clark at Mazo Partners. Kapital Entertainment is the studio.
Cedric Joe has landed the coveted role of Emmett Till in the limited series. Joe, who will also appear in the upcoming Space Jam revamp, won the role of Till following a nationwide search to find a young African-American actor who could embody the tragic character. Adrienne Warren, fresh off her Tony nomination for Tina: The Tina Turner Musical will headline as Mamie Till-Mobley. Niecy Nash will play Alma, Emmett Till’s grandmother. After Emmett’s 1955 murder in, a young grandmother who had been like a second mother to Emmett, fought to protect her family in Chicago while her daughter Mamie traveled the country seeking justice in Emmett’s name. A force of nature, Alma was Mamie’s rock in the face of unbelievable tragedy.
A separate Emmett Till biopic was previously in the works with Taraji P. Henson set to depict Mamie Till-Mobley, but has been halted due to director John Singleton’s death earlier this year. Source(s): Newsone; Deadline; BET. Photo Source(s): Inside Edition; history.com; Vulture.com; Blacklivingknowledge.com; IMDB.