Deon Taylor, director of the recently released thriller “Fatale,” is set to direct “Freedom Ride,” a biopic about the late Georgia Congressman John Lewis and his leadership of the 1961 Freedom Riders.
Taylor will also executive produce through his Hidden Empire Film Group alongside his partner Robert F. Smith, civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump and documentarian Steven Vosburgh, who will write the script based on his interviews with Lewis and other Freedom Riders. Producers include INDE Companies’ Kim Leadford and Mark R. Harris, The Hideaway Entertainment’s Matthew Rhodes and Hidden Empire Film Group’s Roxanne Avent Taylor.
The Freedom Riders were a group of protesters who challenged the non-enforcement of Supreme Court rulings that found segregated public buses to be unconstitutional. The Riders risked their lives by traveling throughout the Deep South in desegregated buses, and were regularly attacked by white mobs led by the Ku Klux Klan. Their efforts drew nationwide attention to the Civil Rights Movement and paved the way for other famous protests, including Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington.
Taylor said in a statement: “John Lewis once said, ‘You are a light. You are the light! Never let anyone — any person or any force — dampen, dim or diminish your light… Release the need to hate, to harbor division and the enticement of revenge. Release all bitterness. Hold only love, only peace in your heart, knowing that the battle of good to overcome evil is already won.’ His words not only resonate with me as human, but inspire me to tell his amazing story. Working with our great partners at The Hideaway Entertainment, INDE Companies and the legendary Benjamin Crump is such a blessing. We are going to create an amazing film and really do John Lewis proud, I promise you!”
“Deon Taylor is the perfect filmmaker for this story,” Crump added. “He has a resonance with the culture that rings authentic for this film. His commitment to getting the vote out via his Be Woke.Vote organization and his organization of peaceful marches for social justice in the name of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, pay great respect to the legacy of John Lewis. I am proud to call him a friend.”
“Freedom Ride” is set to begin shooting this summer in Atlanta and Birmingham, Ala. Deon Taylor and Benjamin Crump are represented by UTA and the Artistry Collective. The deal was negotiated by Christian Simonds of Reed Smith, LLP on behalf of The Hideaway Entertainment.