Colman Domingo is set to portray Bayard Rustin in the upcoming biopic, Rustin, about the gay, civil rights activist. Audra McDonald, Chris Rock, and Glynn Turman join Domingo in the feature.
George C. Wolfe is directing from a screenplay he co-wrote with Dustin Lance Black. The film tells the story of how Rustin overcame an onslaught of obstacles and altered the course of American history.
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Rustin was a key figure in the early civil rights movement in the mid-20th century, leading several marches on Washington as well as organizing Freedom Rides. A practitioner of nonviolent resistance, he was arrested and beaten several times for flouting Jim Crow-era laws. He was also arrested for his sexual orientation, which he tried to keep secret since many believed it would undermine the civil rights work Rustin and others were trying to accomplish (and was indeed used by racist politicians).
Rustin also helped to organize 1963’s March on Washington, the famous rally where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech.
Rock will star as NAACP leader Roy Wilkins, Turman is cast as activist and March on Washington co-organizer A. Philip Randolph; and McDonald, will play civil rights icon Ella Baker.
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Rustin is the first narrative feature to be produced by Higher Ground, Michelle and Barack Obama’s production company. Netflix will release the film under their deal with Higher Ground.
The film also comes from a personal connection to President Obama, who awarded Rustin a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013.
Bruce Cohen and Higher Ground’s Tonia Davis will produce Rustin while Higher Ground’s Mark R. Wright and Alex G. Scott will serve as executive producers.
This film reunites Domingo and Turman with Wolfe who directed Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
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Higher Ground’s upcoming slate of projects in partnership with Netflix includes the feature films Exit West and Satellite, and the comedic series The G Word with Adam Conover.
Higher Ground presented the hit 2021 Netflix film, Fatherhood, starring Kevin Hart, which was licensed from Sony, and the critically acclaimed Netflix film Worth, starring Michael Keaton, Stanley Tucci and Amy Ryan.