Harriet, the long-awaited film about abolitionist Harriet Tubman, will begin production next month in Virginia, Focus Features announced Thursday.
British actress and singer Cynthia Erivo will play the iconic abolitionist who helped free dozens of slaves, family members and friends through the Underground Railroad before the Civil War.
Erivo won a Tony Award for the Broadway revival of The Color Purple in 2016. She is also a Grammy and Emmy winner.
Tony and Grammy winner Leslie Odom Jr., The Wire alum Clarke Peters, Operation Finale actor Joe Alwyn and country music star Jennifer Nettles will round out the main cast.
The film will follow Tubman’s escape from slavery and subsequent missions to guide slaves to freedom.
Kasi Lemmons (Eve’s Bayou) will direct from a screenplay she co-wrote with Gregory Allen Howard
(Ali, Remember the Titans).
Debra Martin Chase (The Princess Diaries, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants), Daniela Taplin Lundberg (Beasts of No Nation, The Kids are All Right) and Gregory Allen Howard will produce.
“This is the story of a seemingly powerless woman who accomplished the extraordinary to save her loved ones, and in the process became a leader of and inspiration for her people,” producers Debra Martin Chase and Daniela Taplin Lundberg said in a joint statement.
“Not only was she a conductor on the Underground Railroad, but she was a spy for the Union army and remains one of the few women to have led an armed expedition in US history,” they continued.
“Tubman’s courageous life and the scope of her bravery is truly made to be told on the big screen,” added Focus Features chairman Peter Kujawski.
Focus Features and Universal Pictures International will distribute the film across the globe.