Cynthia Erivo has landed the lead role in biopic Harriet, which will chronicle the life of abolitionist Harriet Tubman.
The Tony Award-winner, who is garnering buzz for her role in Steve McQueen movie Widows, will begin filming Harriet in October (18) in Virginia, alongside cast members Leslie Odom Jr., Joe Alwyn, Jennifer Nettles, and Clarke Peters.
Rising star Erivo, who won a Tony, Grammy and Emmy for her starring role as Celie in the 2015 Broadway revival of The Color Purple, has been attached to the Harriet project since last year.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the British-Nigerian actress spoke about playing the American icon, admitting she is slightly daunted.
“I can’t say I’m not frightened,” the 31-year-old told the publication. “I am, but that’s probably a good thing.”
Harriet follows African-American icon Tubman’s escape from slavery in 1849 and subsequent missions to rescue dozens of slaves through the Underground Railroad in the face of growing pre-Civil War adversity.
Kasi Lemmons of Eve’s Bayou fame will direct from a screenplay she co-wrote with Gregory Allen Howard, alongside Oscar-winning cinematographer John Toll, who has worked on cinema epics Legends of the Fall and Braveheart.
Producers are Debra Martin Chase with Martin Chase Productions, Daniela Taplin Lundberg with Stay Gold Features, and Howard.
Josh McLaughlin will oversee the production, which tells the heroic story of a “powerless woman who accomplished the extraordinary to save her loved ones” and “in the process became a leader of and inspiration for her people”.
“While Harriet Tubman is a household name, most people don’t know the breadth of her story – not only was she a conductor on the Underground Railroad, but she was a spy for the Union army and remains one of the the few women to have led an armed expedition in U.S. history,” explained Martin Chase and Lundberg.
Focus Features and Universal Pictures International will distribute the film worldwide.
Erivo’s Widows co-star Viola Davis was previously linked to a Tubman HBO film in 2015.
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