Ava DuVernay has been stealing the directorial spotlight ever since her 2011 indie I Will Follow and 2012’s Middle of Nowhere. DuVernay is back with another strong and timely story Selma and has a new big name to add. Oprah Winfrey will play freedom fighter Annie Lee Cooper. The film takes a look back at Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1965 voting rights campaign and Cooper played a pivotal part in the movement.
In a year where we’ve already lost many people instrumental to the fight for civil rights including, but not limited to Maya Angelou, Ruby Dee, Nelson Mandela and Amiri Baraka it its important that our children have a representation of our history – history makers that are unfortunately making their final transitions. Maybe your child has a hard time getting into the history book stories. This film along with others may be the perfect start to peeking their young interest.
Oprah Winfrey spoke to Entertainment Tonight on her new role that brings her back to the big screen. Winfrey was actually filming for the movie and set to visit Dr. Angelou after shooting when she received the unfortunate news, however Winfrey mentioned their last conversation left her with no regrets.
“Sunday, just before coming down here I had an hour-long conversation with her,” said Winfrey to ET. “She was so proud that I was doing this movie, and she said, ‘Take it, baby. Take it all the way,’ because she was a part of the movement.”
Annie Lee Cooper was a Selma, Al. native who stood in line for hours in an attempt to register to vote at the Dallas County Courthouse during the movement. When she was ordered to go home by the sheriff, she ignored after he reportedly poked her in the back of the neck with a billy club. Cooper went on to punch him in the jaw and knock him to the ground. Copper was 56 at the time and while she was taken to jail on assault and attempted murder chargers, she was released for fear the sheriff would come back and beat her.
We’ve seen Oprah land a mean blow before as Sophia in The Color Purple and know this movie is near and dear.
The biopic reunites the Oscar-nominated actress with her Butler co-star David Oyelowo as King. The film also stars Carmen Ejogo as Coretta Scott King, Cuba Gooding Jr. as Fred Gray, Common as James Bevel, Nigel Thatch as Malcolm X and a host of others.
Ava DuVernay made her directorial debut with the critically-acclaimed 2008 hip hop documentary, This is The Life. She has gone on to win Best Director Award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, DuVernay was honored with the 2013 John Cassavetes Independent Spirit Award and the Tribeca Film Institute 2013 Affinity Award for her second feature film Middle of Nowhere.
“I’m thrilled to be working on this beautiful project with such a supportive, committed team,” DuVernay was quoted as saying in the Los Angeles Times.
This news is not only great for DuVernay, but also Hollywood as Black women have been underrepresented in such directorial roles.