Catching up with the brilliance otherwise known as Viola Davis ...
The Academy Award-nominated actress discusses the Barbara Jordan biopic project in an extensive new interview with EBONY. The late and iconic politician rose from poverty to become the first Black woman elected to Congress from the South. Jordan was also lesbian.
Is your [production] company going to be behind the Barbra Jordan biopic? Yes it is! We’re perfecting the script right now and working with some fabulous producers, Shelly Glasser, Diane Nabatoff, and a great director, Paris Barclay, to perfect the story, because 80 percent of work is the narrative. ... And then you you just enhance it. So we’re just trying to perfect that now, but it’s coming.
It seems like a common thread of characters you’ve been playing the last four years —the ones that have been earning your Oscar nominations—is they’re heroines. Is that something you look for? I think that those are the projects that just find me. I think that that’s maybe a quality people feel like I emanate. That they feel that I am larger than life. I’m the reluctant hero.
The award-winning director Paris Barclay is also Black and gay.
Davis' influence now extends to producing: Her nascent company has a number of projects in gestation, including a biopic on Houston's Barbara Jordan - civil rights leader, congresswoman, recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and flag-planter of many significant firsts in American politics.
"It's a chance for me to transform, to create someone who was such a public, heroic figure, who at the end of the day, had a lot of secrets and was very human. To present a character on a really large scale, to use my craft. We're just in the process of making all that happen. But it will happen, as well as other stories I've always wanted to see," she says.
Barbara Jordan represented her hometown of Houston in the Texas Senate from 1967-1973. Jordan became the first Black state senator since 1883 and the first Black woman to serve in that body. She was elected to Congress in 1972 and later became the first Black woman to keynote the Democratic National Convention.
The biopic is partially based on Mary Beth Rogers' biography Barbara Jordan: American Hero ... which never addressed Jordan's sexuality. Viola Davis is a terrific LGBT ally. Can't wait for this project to hit the big screen. I looove Viola Davis and am confident that she and Paris Barclay treat Jordan's legacy with respect and honesty.
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