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New Mahalia Jackson Biopic In Development

New Mahalia Jackson Biopic In Development

It’s not the Mahalia Jackson film that Euzhan Palcy was all set to direct, with Fantasia Barrino starring – a project that I’d say is likely dead, after Jackson’s family reportedly had second thoughts about Fantasia playing the part. 

This Mahalia Jackson project comes from screenwriter/director and college professor at Columbia College in Chicago, Vaun Monroe and Chicago filmmaker Ruth L Ratny, for Joyful Noise, LLC.

Further details based on the information I received, in brief…

It’ll be based on Mahalia’s seminal biography, Just Mahalia, Baby, which is the source for most of the information publicly available about the gospel diva’s life and music.  It was authored by Mahalia’s friend, Laurraine Goreau, a distinguished New Orleans writer and editor, who had access to a lifetime of Mahalia memorabilia.

The filmmakers are hoping to eventually attract the $20 million in funding that will be necessary to make the kind of film that they believe Jackson deserves, and say that a small percentage of that figure has already been raised.  

The film will be shot in Chicago, and has the support of the mayor, civic, business and church leaders.

In the film, the singer rises through faith from her scrubwoman’s knees, to become the world’s greatest gospel singer, taking gospel out of churches into the mainstream throughout the world, including becoming the first gospel singer to perform at Carnegie Hall, and the riches, fame and love that had previously eluded her, all come.    

In addition to fundraising, the film is currently casting, as Ratny and Monroe believe that the industry current climate which has seen a number of biopics (especially biopics based on the lives of black public personalities) produced, only bodes well for their chances on their Mahalia Jackson story. That, and also what might be considered a surge in commitment to catering to the faith-market.

I should add that Jackson was most recently featured in the documentary titled Rejoice And Shout, a film covered on Shadow And Act, which the filmmakers called the DEFINITIVE history of Gospel music, directed by Don McGlynn.

The film traces the history of gospel music from its beginnings on Southern plantations and Baptist churches to national prominence. Featuring a wealth of archival footage of legendary gospel acts such as Mahalia Jackson, Sister Rosetta TharpeThe Staples Singers, and several others.

The filmmakers of this new Mahalia Jackson scripted film, are aiming for a late 2014 release – with Christmas being ideal, with good reason.

Stay tuned…

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Not just because she is my sister and a great vocalist and actress, but have you considered Sue Roseberry aka Mama Sue for the role. Not a gosple vocalist around that sounds as much like Mahelia as she does. I have footage of her in the play Mahelia and believe me she is worth looking into for the role. Few people know that she is an actress in addition to a great singer and an anointed gosple missionary.

Miles Ellison

Just ignore the family’s wishes entirely and make the movie about some peripheral (or made up) white person and plaster dark make up on some totally inappropriate choice to play Mahalia Jackson. That’s what will happen anyway.


Tamela would be a better choice. I like Queen but she would not be received by the target audience.

Vanessa Cromwell

I am a direct descendant of Mahalia Jackson’s my family definitely does not want Fantasia to play the role of Mahalia. Why not choose members of her family who are still living and we can sing.


I talked on the phone twice with Laurraine Goreau in the mid '70's about Mahalia and received a personal note from Ms. Goreau. Her book is the logical choice for a story about Jackson. It's fascinating and hard to put down. If I get rich, I will help fund the biopic . . . it's that worthwhile in order to introduce younger generations to the richness of New Orleans and in particular to Mahalia Jackson. Ms. Jackson took the time to write me a brief letter in 1969, which I still treasure.


I forgot to include my contact info. if interested in leasing my Mahalia Jackson memorabilia collection for this project. Mail letter(s) of interest to:
Gospel Memorabilia International
214 East 85th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90003


I would love to see a tribute to this great gospel icon. I am the founder of Gospel Memorabilia International. I am more than willing to assist this project with my pristine Mahalia Jackson memorabilia collection. All my best to those involved in the making of this biopic masterpiece.


There is no better person to play Mahalia than gospel and grammy winner, Le'Andria Johnson. She can sing anything and she can act. Look her up.


There is no better person to play Mahalia than gospel and grammy winner, Le'Andria Johnson. She can sing anything and she can act. Look her up.


Though I think Fantasia would been great to play Mahalia Jackson, I'd rather see her play Aretha Franklin. She would be perfect for an Aretha Franklin biopic. She would also be perfect for a Patti LaBelle biopic and a Mahogany remake with Jamie Foxx.


If they don't raise the full 20, it could be an open door for a Countess Vaughn comeback.


Amber Riley from "Glee" could play a young Mahalia


zoe saldana should play her


my little sister named after her Mahelia


@Blutoplaz You're so wrong. This is the perfect vehicle for Queen Latifah!
She's also be great in a Pearl Bailey biopic. I can't imagine anyone else in this role,
but QT!


I hear what Blutopaz is saying and one never knows, but on a serious tip, I listen to gospel music on a daily basis, so let me give my opinion on the perfect choice to play Mahalia Jackson.

First, there has been much debate on "singers" and rappers talking roles from trained actors. Well, the woman I have in mind has horned her skills and is a proven professional in both art forms. Additionally, since this film will play well to the faith-base market (read church folks) Tyler Perry's crowd is very familiar with this actress who got her start with the mega popular gospel group Kirk Franklin and The Family. So, without further ado, I present the actress who plays Deacon Leroy Browns wife in several of Tyler's stage productions, and who stars in the popular TV series Meet the Brown, the gospel singer Tamela J. Mann.

She can blow, she can act and her body type is a perfect match.


Brace ourselves now for the #NikkiMinajCastAsMahalia uproar.

And no, Queen Latifah wouldn't be any better.

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