Actor and activist Jesse Williams is branching out into filmmaking with a movie about Mamie Till-Mobley, mother of African-American teenager Emmett Till, who was lynched in 1955 after being accused of flirting with a white woman.
Williams, who’s best known for playing Dr. Jackson Avery on Grey’s Anatomy, will make his directorial debut with Till, which will focus on Mamie’s search for justice following the murder of her 14-year-old son in Mississippi.
Mamie left Emmett’s casket open at his funeral.
The images of his mangled body awakened the nation to deep-rooted racial hatred in the Jim Crow-era South.
Williams will direct the film from a screenplay by Michael Reilly and civil rights filmmaker Keith A. Beauchamp, Deadline reported Monday.
Production on the film, which has received approval from the Till family, is set to begin in summer 2019.
Williams will serve as a producer, along with James Bond franchise producer Barbara Broccoli, Thomas Levine, Leah Natasha Thomas, Frederick Zollo, Beauchamp and Whoopi Goldberg, who will also act in the film.
Williams told Deadline, “I’m honored to be directing the story of Mamie & Emmett, a tale of revolutionary defiance in the face of tremendous personal and public devastation. An exploration of power and pulling back the curtain on cultural violence; of boyhood and maternity challenging America’s reflex to hide from itself; underdogs refusing to pretend that terror is freedom.”
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Chicago native Till was visiting relatives in Mississippi, when he was falsely accused of whistling at a white woman named Carolyn Bryant Donham at a local store.
Donham’s husband Roy Bryant and his half-brother J.W. Milam, were charged with murder but acquitted by an all-white jury.
The men later confessed in a magazine interview, but were never retried.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Justice told Congress it is re-investigating the slaying after receiving “new information.”
The report was issued following the publication of The Blood of Emmett Till, a 2017 book that said Donham admitted lying about the events that led to Till’s death.