Harriet Tubman Film In The Works Starring Cynthia Erivo And Directed By Kasi Lemmons

With only a few rare exceptions, Hollywood has largely ignored stories of prominent black people especially those who fought back during the slavery era. That's why Nate Parker had to basically go outside the system to tell the story of Nat Turner in Birth of a Nation, because there simply was no studio demand to see such a film. I like to think part of that film's legacy will be to open the doors to other such stories being told. A couple of years ago we first learned of a biopic on abolitionist Harriet Tubman, but word on it has been quiet and I assumed, wrongfully as it turns out, that it had quietly been shelved.

Focus Features has announced the start of production on Harriet, which will star Cynthia Erivo (Widows) as Tubman. Behind the camera will be Kasi Lemmons, the accomplished director behind Talk to Me, Eve's Bayou, Black Nativity, and The Caveman's Valentine. She takes over from Seith Mann, who was attached to direct when the project was originally announced. The script by Gregory Allen Howard and Lemmons remains, however. 

Joining Erivo will be Leslie Odom Jr. (Hamilton), Joe Alwyn (Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk), Jennifer Nettles, and Clarke Peters (The Wire). 

Tubman is famous for her courageous exploits as part of the Underground Railroad, helping to lead more than a dozen missions to rescue approximately 70 slaves. Having escaped slavery herself in 1849, Tubman also worked tirelessly for women's suffrage and was a spy for the Union during the Civil War.