Jill Scott to portray Mahalia Jackson in Mahalia! biopic, a big-screen take on the gospel legend’s life. This is not to be confused with Danielle Brooks’ portrayal in Lifetime’s Robin Roberts Presents: The Mahalia Jackson Story.
Scott will star in the Mahalia biopic that Queen Latifah and Jamie Foxx are executive producing along with Latifah’s partner Shakim Compere and Clark Sisters EP Holly Carter.
In a release announcing the news, Queen Latifah says, “This is such an incredibly important story to tell and we’re thrilled to work with Jamie on the project. Shakim and I are also looking forward to reteaming with our Clark Sisters producing partner, Holly Carter, to share Mahalia’s inspiring journey to becoming the Queen of Gospel music.”
Mahalia! is based on the novel Mahalia Jackson by Darlene Donloe.
During a time when gospel music was not as mainstream as it is today, Jackson became one of the wealthiest and most powerful entertainers in the world. Known as the mentor and inspiration behind Aretha Franklin, Jackson rose from brutal poverty in New Orleans to become a platinum-selling artist. She was the first gospel singer to perform at Carnegie Hall and would continue to captivate audiences around the world, including presidents, kings, and queens, until her death in 1972.
Known as the inspiration behind the “I Have a Dream” speech, she was one of the most instrumental voices and ardent supporters of Martin Luther King Jr. And she was a driving force behind John F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign. Harry Belafonte once described Jackson as “the single most powerful Black woman in the United States.” And, unknown to many, she was a formidable activist behind the scenes of some of America’s most influential politicians during one of the most tumultuous periods in our nation’s history, mirroring today’s political and social climate.
Mark Gould, Richard Hocutt, and Tricia Woodgett will pen the script with the latter two producing as well.
“I am beyond grateful to be able to partner with Latifah and Shakim again and equally excited that Jamie has joined the team. Much like The Clark Sisters, Mahalia! is another epic story of faith that is driven by powerful and uplifting music. I believe Ms. Scott was a God-send and will be absolute perfection in the lead role”, says Carter.
As part of the deal, the production team has secured the rights to Jackson’s entire catalog. That includes “How I Got Over,” “His Eyes Are on the Sparrow.” As well as “Move on Up a Little Higher,”Amazing Grace” and “Go Tell It On the Mountain.”