Orange is the New Black actress Danielle Brooks is set to play gospel music icon Mahalia Jackson in an upcoming Lifetime biopic, the network announced Monday.
The movie will be produced by Good Morning America co-anchor Robin Roberts and directed by Tony Award winner Kenny Leon, who helmed Lifetime’s all-African American remake of Steel Magnolias.
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Titled Robin Roberts Presents: The Mahalia Jackson Story, the project is part of a new four-picture deal Lifetime inked with Roberts, who previously executive produced Stolen by My Mother: The Kamiyah Mobley Story.
“Having had the privilege of working with Kenny on Steel Magnolias and Robin Roberts on Stolen by my Mother, I am ecstatic to have them join forces to work together on this special project,” Tanya Lopez, EVP of Movies, Limited Series & Original Movie Acquisitions at Lifetime and LMN, said in a press release. “Adding Danielle Brooks as Mahalia is icing on the cake. This team is committed in celebrating the legacy of Mahalia and reintroducing her to a world that needs her spirit more than ever.”
The green light for the film follows the success of Lifetime’s The Clark Sisters: The First Ladies of Gospel, which was seen by over 13 million viewers in multiple airings.
Born in New Orleans, Mahalia Jackson began singing at an early age and went on to become a legendary figure in gospel music. Her recording of “Move on Up a Little Higher” sold millions of copies, bringing her international fame and gave her the opportunity to perform in front of a racially integrated audience at Carnegie Hall and at John F. Kennedy’s inaugural ball.
An active supporter of the Civil Rights Movement, Jackson sang at numerous rallies, including the March on Washington in 1963 alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The movie on her life comes from Rock’n Robin Productions and Lincoln Square Productions, with Roberts and Linda Berman serving as executive producers.