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Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Nate Parker, Danny Glover Set For Gina Prince-Bythewood's 'Blackbird'

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by Tambay A. Obenson
August 15, 2013 6:50 PM
5 Comments
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Actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw and choreographer by Laurieann Gibson (Photo credit: Stephanie Allain)
Actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw and choreographer by Laurieann Gibson (Photo credit: Stephanie Allain)

An update to my July 9 post, which fills in some holes, providing added information I didn't have at the time. 

But first a recap...

Just over a year ago, I had a phone chat with writer/director Gina Prince-Bythewood about a piece I wrote around the same time on what I called the "dismal outlook for black filmmakers in Hollywood" (read it HERE if you missed it). During that conversation, I learned that she was working on a project or two, although she couldn't give any details on what any of those projects were/are, understandably. 

Skip ahead a year+ to last month, when I just happened to catch a tweet from Bythewood, in which she shared the above photo, along with the caption:

Official day one rehearsal with my star Gugu Mbatha-Raw & Laurieann Gibson! Putting in work!  

Needless to say, she immediately had my attention, and I instantly went on a hunt to see what I could find out about this. 

In short, Bythewood began pre-production on a project titled Blackbird that day (July 9), which she said is something she'd been wanting to make for some time, and is evidently now getting the opportunity to do so. 

She described the film as "a love story set in the music world," adding that The-Dream is creating all the original music for film, which will be choreographed by Laurieann Gibson.

Obviously Gugu Mbatha-Raw (who we'll next see in Amma Asante's period piece, Belle) is starring. No word at the time on who else is involved.

This afternoon, Deadline is reporting that Relativity has acquired worldwide rights to Blackbird, providing financing and distribution for, with Stephanie Allain producing. 

Furthermore, joining Gugu Mbatha-Raw in the film's cast are Nate Parker and Danny Glover

The film's official synopsis reads:

Blackbird is the story of Noni Jean, a hot new artist who has just won a Grammy and is primed for stardom. But the pressures of success compel her to nearly end her life until she is saved by a young police officer. They fall hard for each other, despite the protests of their parents who want each to focus on their own career ambitions. But he might be the missing piece to unlock her artistic potential. 

We can assume that Gugu plays Noni Jean, and Nate Parker is likely playing the young police officer she falls hard for.

Relativity president Tucker Tooley is exec producing with Matt Alvarez and Reggie Bythewood

This will be Bythewood's first feature film directorial effort since 2008's The Secret Life of Bees.

Worth noting, this will be the second film by a black filmmaker, with a black cast, with the title Blackbird, announced in the last 6 months. Patrik-Ian Polk has begun work on his 5th feature film (he was casting for it as recently as February), also titled Blackbird. I can only guess that one of them might change.

But needless to say, I'm looking forward to seeing what Bythewood is cooking up currently, so stay tuned...

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5 Comments

  • Renelda | November 22, 2013 12:03 AMReply

    Very much a Gina Prince-Bythewood fan. I have her work and am awaiting this newest one.
    I like her writing and style of directing. Best of Luck, Gina.

  • Jess | August 16, 2013 3:45 PMReply

    It's great that more features are coming up for actresses of color. Just curious, has Ms. Mbatha-Raw had leading roles in critically-acclaimed pieces that I may have missed? Right now, it's hard for me to have any excitement for this because I remember "Undercovers."

  • Nancy | August 15, 2013 10:30 PMReply

    Looking forward to the flick

  • JEFTCG | August 15, 2013 7:52 PMReply

    Cool news. Now it's time for Reggie to make that next feature, too. Come on, Reg, we're pulling for you.

  • Adam Scott Thompson | August 15, 2013 7:27 PMReply

    It's doubly hard for Prince-Bythewood, being black and female. Good luck to her, the cast and the crew.

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