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4 Black female directors will bring the story of Emmett Till’s mother to light

4 Black female directors will bring the story of Emmett Till's mother to light
Emmett Till – Photo by Eddy “Precise” Lamarre for Steed Media Service

Four African American women will direct ABC’s upcoming miniseries “Women of the Movement.” The first part of a potential anthology celebrates the brave women who took part in the Civil Rights Movement.

Tina Mabry, Julie Dash, Gina Prince-Bythewood and Kasi Lemmons, will direct the six-episode series centering on Mamie Till-Mobley. Mobley devoted her life to seeking justice for her 14-year-old son Emmett Till, who was murdered by racists in Mississippi in 1955 after being accused of whistling to a White woman.

Bythewood, who is also the executive producer of the series, will direct the first episode. Mabry will direct parts two and three, while Dash will handle four and five. Lemmons, who directed the blockbuster film Harriet, will lens the sixth and final episodes of the limited series.

“Women of the Movement” was created by writer Marissa Jo Cerar, who also serves as one of the executive producers and a showrunner. She spoke with Deadline about the importance of having the four Black women take control of the lens. “Gina, Tina, Julie and Kasi have all made undeniable contributions to film and television. They are trailblazers whose work has inspired so many of us,” she said. “I put a lot of thought into building this roster of profoundly talented Black women, all of whom are committed to honoring Emmett and Mamie’s legacy above all else. Collaborating with these filmmakers is a dream realized. I am honored.”

Adrienne Warren will play Till-Mobley in the focus piece, while Cedric Joe will play Emmett. The series also will star Tonya Pinkins, Glynn Turman, Chris Coy, Julia McDermott and Carter Jenkins. Will Smith and Jay-Z are among the producers of the project as well.

“Women of the Movement” is inspired by the book Emmett Till: The Murder That Shocked the World and Propelled the Civil Rights Movement. With the murders of other young Black men like Trayvon Martin and Ahmaud Arbery in recent years, the film also sheds light that racism in America hasn’t changed.

“I am thrilled to bring this project to television,” Cerar also told Deadline. “It is unfortunately very timely, and my hope is to give the audience a chance to learn who Emmett Till really was – the boy, rather than the victim or the martyr – while also showcasing Mamie’s astonishing strength in the face of a mother’s worst nightmare. Telling Emmett and Mamie’s story is a responsibility I have not taken lightly….It’s a story about a mother’s unwavering love of her son and her commitment to bettering the lives of all Black people.”

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