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HBO Films has teamed with writer Kirk Ellis, producer Doug Ellin and Steven Spielberg’s Amblin TV for a project about Harriet Tubman, with Oscar nominee Viola Davis set to portray the famous abolitionist.

Based on the biography Bound for the Promise Land by historian Kate Clifford Larson, the film, now in development, tells the story of American hero Harriet Tubman. Born a slave, she escaped and, via an intricate escape network of secret routes and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad, she led more than 300 slaves to freedom in the North and later fought with the Union during the Civil War.

HBO has added a Harriet Tubman biopic to its upcoming slate, which Viola Davis is attached to produce and star in. It will be based on the book, “Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman: Portrait of an American Hero,” by historian Kate Clifford Larson, which was published in 2004, and draws from new documents and sources as well extensive genealogical research, to paint a portrait of a complex woman, passionate in her pursuit of freedom, from her birth in Maryland, to winning her own freedom, then returning repeatedly to free family and friends, via the Underground Railroad.

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Films to Look Forward to:

  • Viola Davis to Develop a Harriet Tubman Biopic for HBO: The Viola Davis/HBO project will be based on the book, “Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman: Portrait of an American Hero,” by historian Kate Clifford Larson, which was published in 2004, and draws from new documents and sources as well extensive genealogical research, to paint a portrait of a complex woman, passionate in her pursuit of freedom, from her birth in Maryland, to winning her own freedom, then returning repeatedly to free family and friends, via the Underground Railroad. No word on an ETA, but it’s still in development, but Davis is hoping to shoot the film during her break from filming ABC’s “How to Get Away with Murder,” next year. [X]
  • Actor Nate Parker to Develop Nat Turner Biopic: Parker emphasized his desire to see the project realized in a New York Times interview published in April 2014, in which he revealed a little more useful info: “I’m directing a film in the fall, a biopic on Nat Turner, who led the most successful slave revolt in American history. I call it the black “Braveheart.” I wrote the script, I’m starring. That’s where I want to go. The goal for me is to push the envelope always."  We can now add that Aja Naomi King (“How to Get Away With Murder”), Aunjanue Ellis, Colman Domingo, Dwight Henry, Roger Guenveur Smith, Gabrielle Union and Arnie Hammer have all joined the film’s cast. Shooting begins in Savannah, Ga. May 2015[X]
Viola Davis to Play Harriet Tubman in Upcoming HBO Film

Viola Davis to Play Harriet Tubman in Upcoming HBO Film

Viola Davis to star as Harriet Tubman in an upcoming HBO film.

‘How to Get Away with Murder’s leading lady, Viola Davis, will portray Harriety Tubman in a new HBO biopic. The upcoming HBO biopic will be based on Kate Clifford Larson’s book ;Bound for the Promise Land.’ The new movie will center around Harriet Tubman’s courageous acts leading slaves to freedom through the Underground Railroad and…

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I’ve often said that when you start looking into the backgrounds of the mainstream Black actresses in Hollywood, you will find a set of credentials that, to me, highlight the Black Tax and how it may be uniquely applied to Black women who wish to act. Considering the percentage of the country in general who has a degree and the backgrounds of other actors, you cannot convince me it is a coincidence that this much excellence and education was required of Black women in particular, just to be given the opportunity to fight for a chance.

That being said… i’d like to celebrate these women.

left to right and top to bottom…

1) Kerry Washington (Scandal, Save The Last Dance, She Hate Me, Ray, Fantastic Four, Django Unchained, For Colored Girls, The Last King of Scotland, etc) -  graduated Phi Beta Kappa from George Washington University with a double major in Anthropology and Sociology. Received an honorary doctorate from there in 2013.

2) Taraji P. Henson (Empire, Person of Interest, Boston Legal, The Division, No Good Deed, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Hustle & Flow, Baby Boy, etc … for real the list is long as hell) - graduated with a degree in Theatre Arts from Howard University

3) Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years A Slave) - Masters of Fine Arts from Yale School of Drama,  BA in Film and Theatre Studies from Hampshire College 

4) Viola Davis (How To Get Away With Murder, Law & Order: SVU, City of Angels, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, The Help, Law Abiding Citizen, Beautiful Creatures, Eat Pray Love, Antwone Fisher, etc… also several Broadway credits… she’s a baddie basically) -  Attended Julliard for 4 years,  graduated from Rhode Island College with a degree in Theatre and received an honorary doctorate from there in 2002.

5) Angela Bassett (American Horror Story, ER, What’s Love Got To Do With It, Notorious, The Jacksons: An American Dream, Akeelah and the Bee, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Waiting To Exhale, Boyz In The Hood…ETC.. y'all it goes back to 1986… like… bow to a Queen when you see one) - Master of Fine Arts from Yale School of Drama, BA in African-American Studies from Yale University

6) Octavia Spencer (Red Band Society, Ugly Betty, Halfway Home, Fruitvale Station, The Help, etec.) - Bachelor’s in Liberal Arts from Auburn University

7) Nicole Beharie (Sleepy Hollow, 42, American Violet, My Last Day Without You, A Free Man of Color [Broadway]) - Julliard for 4 years, got the Shakespeare scholarship and trained in England

8) Retta (Parks and Recreation) -  pre-med with a Sociology degree from Duke University, worked as a chemist with GlaxoSmithKline.

9) Jerrika Hinton (Grey’s Anatomy) - Bachelor of Fine Arts from Southern Methodist University

10) Regina Hall (Law & Order: Los Angeles, Ally McBeal, Think Like A Man, Think Like A Man Too, Best Man, Best Man Holiday, The Scary Movie Franchise) - Masters in Journalism from NYU


ADDING MORE:

Gabrielle Union (Being Mary Jane, Flash Forward, Night Stalker, City of Angels, Top Five, Think Like A Man, Think Like A Man Too, Bring It On, Daddy’s Little Girls, Cadillac Records, Two Can Play That Game, etc) - graduated from UCLA with a degree in Sociology.


Danielle Brooks (Orange Is The New Black, first Black woman on Girls [a show that started in 2012 mind you..]) - graduated from Julliard.


Samira WIley (Orange Is The New Black) - Julliard grad.


Uzoamaka Nwaneka “Uzo” Aduba (Orange Is The New Black) - studied voice at Boston University and is a Broadway veteran.


not an actor, but still:

Shonda Rhimes - writer, show creator, producer (Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, How To Get Away With Murder, Private Practice, Introducing Dorothy Dandridge, Crossroads, Princess Diaries 2) - Master of Fine Arts from the University of Southern California, majored in English and film studies at Dartmouth College and received an honorary doctorate from there in 2014.