Not quite a year since her death, Tavis Smiley and director Kenny Leon have announced that they have teamed up to develop a stage adaptation of Smiley’s new Maya Angelou memoir, “My Journey With Maya,” which details their nearly 30-year friendship.
Smiley was 21 years old when he first met Angelou, who was 58 at the time, in the mid-1980s.
The poet, professor, author, speaker, icon died on May 28, 2014.
A search for a writer to adapt the book is underway. No word on casting yet.
“I haven’t been this excited by a project in a long, long time,” Leon said. “I don’t think there is another person like her in my lifetime or in the last 100 years of American artistry and literary achievement.”
“My Journey With Maya,” co-written with David Ritz, will be in bookstores next Tuesday, April 7, from publisher Little, Brown. Here’s its official summary: “Tavis Smiley and Maya Angelou met in 1986, when he was twenty-one and she was fifty-eight. For the next twenty-eight years, Angelou was a teacher and a maternal figure to Smiley, and they talked often of art, politics, history, music, religion, and race. In My Journey with Maya, Smiley beautifully recounts a friendship filled with conversation that began when he, a recent college graduate and a poor kid from a big family in the Midwest, accompanied the revered writer on a sojourn to Ghana. Smiley stumbled into a relationship with her that shaped his future and affected the man he became. Like a mother to him, she was generous, challenging, and inspirational–as she was to so many. Here he shares his portrait of Angelou–a highly complex individual who left an indelible imprint on American culture.”
“I’ve been saying for the longest time she may be the greatest renaissance woman in black America. But I’m really wrestling with whether or not she may be the greatest renaissance woman, period,” Smiley said.
I wonder if a feature-length film on the life of, or on some specific period in Maya Angelou’s life will ever generate any producer interest…