Shadow & Act has learned that what will be an unconventional biopic based on the life of playwright, author, activist Lorraine Hansberry (A Raisin in the Sun), is in development, with long time collaborators Taye
Hansberry (grand niece of Lorraine Hansberry and author of stuffshelikes.net), and Numa Perrier (The Couple) penning the script to a film that will star Taye in the title role, and will be directed by Perrier.
Issa Rae is set to play Nina Simone, who was a close friend of Lorraine
until her death.
And Jaleel White will play James Baldwin, Hansberry’s close friend and confidant.
Will Stewart (Casting Director for Scandal) is casting the project, with additional announcements to come.
Production is slated to begin in early fall, with the project now heading into the pre-production stage.
Living quite an involved life, Hansberry was the first black playwright and the youngest American to win a New York Critics’ Circle award. She’s likely most-known for her seminal play about a struggling black family in Chicago, A Raisin in the Sun (a line taken from a Langston Hughes poem).
It was the first play produced on Broadway by an African American woman. It opened at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on March 11, 1959, and was a great success.
The film version of A Raisin in the Sun was completed in 1961, starring Sidney Poitier.
Throughout her life, she was heavily involved in civil rights, and died very young at just 34 of pancreatic cancer.
There’s obviously a lot more to know about Hansberry’s life – some of it, public information; some of it not; much of it unfolding on screen, in this upcoming project.
The film won’t be a traditional biopic, as already noted, which this writer is excited to hear; and given what I know of Perrier’s past artistic endeavors over the years (engaged in almost all forms of media), I’d expect something bold here.
In the meantime, here’s a photo of Taye Hansberry as Lorraine Hansberry: