Lifetime has set “Orange Is the New Black” alum Danielle Brooks as the star of the next original film under the “Robin Roberts Presents” banner, the network announced Monday.
Directed by Kenny Leon, who previously helmed the network’s all-African American remake of “Steel Magnolias,” “Robin Roberts Presents: The Mahalia Jackson Story” will explore the life of gospel legend and civil rights activist Mahalia Jackson. It is the first of four new scripted films ordered by Lifetime under the its existing partnership with Roberts.
Born in New Orleans, Jackson is one of the most revered gospel figures in U.S. history, known for melding her music with the civil rights movement, best known for her recording of “Move on Up a Little Higher” and performing at John F. Kennedy’s inaugural ball and the March on Washington in 1963 alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“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,” said Tanya Lopez, EVP of Movies, Limited Series & Original Movie Acquisitions, Lifetime and LMN. “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 project reunites Brooks and Leon, who previously collaborated on the stage production of “Much Ado About Nothing.”
“The Mahalia Jackson Story” is produced by Rock’n Robin Productions and Lincoln Square Productions. Roberts and Linda Berman are executive producers.