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NY Times Best-Selling Author Pearl Cleage Teaming w/ Ayoka Chenzira To Bring Novels To Screen

by Tambay A. Obenson
August 20, 2012 12:23 PM
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Pearl, Ayoka

We often lament the lack of novels by black authors attracting film producer interest - especially in Hollywood. So it's always wonderful to learn about initiatives like this one.

Just how fantabulous is this? Courtesy of an email I just received from Bridgett Davis, professor at New York's Baruch College, and filmmaker as well (see Naked Acts, 1996)... I'll just give you the news for now, and we'll return later for a much more comprehensive look at this:

Professor Ayoka Chenzira Partners with Pearl Cleage to Produce New Film Project

New York Times best-selling author Pearl Cleage... has teamed up with award-winning filmmaker Ayoka Chenzira, Ph.D., founder and director of the Spelman College Digital Moving Image Salon, to bring her novels to the screen, in what has been dubbed The Pearl Cleage Film Project.

The first film adaptations on the slate are two of Cleage’s most popular novels: Babylon Sisters, which was featured on the Essence Book Club list, and What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day, which was an Oprah's Book Club pick and stayed on the New York Times Best Seller list for nine weeks.

Cleage and Chenzira’s collaboration is considered historic as it marks the first time an African-American female novelist and an African-American female filmmaker have joined forces to bring entertaining and thought-provoking, multidimensional characters who are African American to the screen as feature films.

Become a part of The Pearl Cleage Film Project by visiting its site at

What you can expect: 

A VLOG section of the website that will feature video interviews with Pearl, the producers, industry guests and others associated with the project, as they come on board; and a BLOG section, in which visitors are invited to help us think through ideas, as the crew turns to you for suggestions and comments.

Of course, they are also looking for INVESTORS; so if you are interested in investing in the project, you can let them know by emailing That's always the challenge isn't it - financing.

Let's hope this is able to attract interest and move forward...

And if you've never read a Pearl Cleage novel, now's a good time to catch up!

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  • Pepper | August 21, 2012 5:04 PMReply


  • Laura | August 21, 2012 8:26 AMReply

    Yippy. I always wonder what became of Ayoka Chenzira

  • urbanauteur | August 21, 2012 4:10 PM

    Me too...she(ayoka) was one of the 1st black women filmmakers i've met back in the day circa 1987-90 along with Jackie Shearer,Michelle Parkinson, Camille Billips,julie dash & irene davis..this is gret news, hopefully it'll become CONTAGIOUS or will it just be wishful thinking?
    i could see it now: Ishmeal Reed/Spike Lee ...Toni Morrison/Julie Dash...Alice Walker/Dee Rees...Walter Mosley/Carl Franklin...August Wilson/Bill Duke...Paul Beatty/John Singleton...Zadie Smith/Kasi Lemmons...get my drift?..maybe TamBey should start a author/filmmaker matchmaker-collaborative "dream team" like movie fan site MUBI..?..its a thought;-)

  • Missy | August 20, 2012 2:23 PMReply

    Excellent news! THIS is the type of change I hope to see more of in the film world.

  • ALM | August 20, 2012 2:20 PMReply


  • vdub0408 | August 20, 2012 1:00 PMReply

    all i read was the headline and i am THRILLED. i have been waiting for the movie version of "Some Things I Thought I'd Never Do", I Which I Had a Red Dress, and What Looks Like Crazy... for oh-so-long! My first encounter with Sister Pearl Cleage was through her play, Hospice and her book of essays "Deals With the Devil and Other Reasons to Riot". The latter I feel should be given to each young woman on the occasion of high school graduation! The first time I heard her read "Mad at Miles" at Club Zebra in 1990 at the National Black Art Festival I was lifted!!! Can not wait to see her work on the screen.

  • Akimbo | August 20, 2012 1:10 PM

    LOL, I love your excitement. This is truly awesome news. I also wouldn't mind seeing her plays adapted, at least as TV movies. I lovelovelove Flying West.

  • J | August 20, 2012 12:40 PMReply

    Yay! I've read several of her books and they're all pretty similar. I'd agree that 'Babylon Sisters' and 'What Looks Like Crazy' are the best of the bunch, so this is good news. Here's hoping they find funding.

  • tamara | August 20, 2012 12:25 PMReply

    Awesome! Great! More #booktofilm, I say. More! There's too many original stories in print that need to be shared visually :-)

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