Fifteen years ago, “Real Women Have Curves” director Patricia Cardoso almost made “Nappily Ever After” for Universal Pictures, with Halle Berry in the lead role. An adaptation of the bestselling first installment from Trisha R. Thomas’ eight-book series eventually found a home at Netflix. Berry’s onetime part went to Film Independent Spirit Award nominee Sanaa Lathan (“Love & Basketball”), also the project’s co-producer.
As advertising executive Violet Jones — changed from Venus Johnston in the books — Lathan is a coiffure-conscious perfectionist who believes she’s engineered herself a happy ending. Yet life begins to capsize when her doctor beau presents her with a Chihuahua instead of a proposal, and she is taken off an important work account.
Late one night, convinced she has nothing left to lose — and recalling her boyfriend’s criticism of “You never let your hair down” — she shaves her head. The film’s tagline, naturally, is, “Let Yourself Grow.”
Adam Brooks (“Beloved”) and first-time screenwriter Cee Marcellus penned the film, which co-stars Ernie Hudson (“Ghostbusters”) and Emmy winner Lynn Whitfield (“The Josephine Baker Story”) as Violet’s parents, plus “American Gods” lead Ricky Whittle and Netflix veteran Lyriq Bent (“She’s Gotta Have It”) as her suitors.
BAFTA nominee Haifaa al-Mansour became the first Saudi woman to direct a feature film with “Wadjda” (2014); last year, Elle Fanning starred in her English-language debut, IFC Films’ “Mary Shelley.” Additional producers include Tracey Bing (“Southside with You”), Jared LeBoff (“Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”), and Marc Platt (“La La Land”), who was attached to the film when it was in development at Universal.
“Nappily Ever After” arrives on Netflix September 21. Watch the trailer below.