The biography of African American lawyer, entrepreneur, Wall Street wizard and philanthropist, Reginald Lewis, once the wealthiest black man in this country, is currently being adapted for the screen, with Jamie Foxx potentially playing the lead role.
Stephen Belber (who has penned scripts for TV shows Rescue Me and Law & Order: SVU) is said to be currently adapting Lewis’ book Why Should White Guys Have All the Fun, Lewis’ inspiring story of how he would grow out of poverty to become the wealthiest black man in American in the 80s, building a billion dollar multinational company in Beatrice International (a food, beverage and grocery store conglomerate – the largest African American owned and managed business in the USA at the time), and accumulating a personal fortune of over $400 million at the time of his death in 1993 from brain cancer.
I read the book 5 or 6 years back once, based on a recommendation, and I vaguely remember it all of its content, though I can give you the gist of it. I’ll have to read it again so that I can post up a book-to-film analysis. I already have a few of those in the works.
But from what I do recall of the book, Reginald didn’t exactly have the most likable of personalities; he was arrogant, temperamental, tough, principled, fiercely driven, and formidable, and he expected the same from everyone who worked with or for him. Men like him usually are all those things and more, which tends to help explain their successes. But he was also very giving as a philanthropist, and was very aware of his position as a wealthy black man in this country, and the image he portrayed. He made a number of shrewd business deals that catapulted him to prominence, and died way too early at just 50 years old.
As a vehicle for Jamie Foxx? Sure, why Not? Though I’m sure comparisons to Will Smith in Pursuit Of Happyness will likely be made, if the film is ever produced.
The full title of the book is Why Should White Guys Have All the Fun: How Reginald Lewis Created a Billion-Dollar Business Empire; pick up a copy if you haven’t read it yet.