Pictured Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee from Life’s Essentials with Ruby Dee (2014) the documentary explores the life stories of iconic actors Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee as it pertained to lasting love, undying art, and tireless activism. Directed by their grandson, Muta’Ali.
Part 2 of the series of actors and actresses I would cast in the leading roles of these Black biopics Hollywood should make right now.
Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee Story starring Derek Luke and Danielle Nicolet
Davis and Dee were actors, poets, playwrights, and civil rights activists. They were married in 1948 after they had met on the set of Robert Ardrey’s 1946 play Jeb. The couple starred in many numerous plays, movies, and television shows. They were friends of several players in the Civil Rights Movement, including Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. The couple had three children, two daughters and a son.
In 2014, their grandson, filmmaker Muta’Ali Muhammad wrote and directed the documentary, “Life’s Essentials with Ruby Dee.” In this open-letter style documentary, Ruby Dee & Ossie Davis’ rich lives guide his quest to master lasting love, conscious art, and undying activism.
Actor Dennis Haysbert portrayed Ossie Davis in the 2015 film Experimenter. I would cast Derek Luke of Antwone Fisher as Davis with Danielle Nicolet of the television show The Flash to portray the iconic black couple.
The Marian Anderson Story starring Audra Ann McDonald
Between 1925 and 1965, Marian Anderson performed in major recital venues and concert halls throughout the United States and Europe. In 1939, at the height of racial segregation, the Daughters of the American Revolution refused to allow her to sing at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. On Easter Sunday, April 9, 1939, with the help of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Anderson performed before an integrated crowd of more than 75,000 people in an open-air concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The event would be broadcast over the radio with millions of listeners.
On January 7, 1955, Anderson became the first African American singer to perform at the Metropolitan Opera. In 1963, she sang at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Anderson received several awards, including the first Presidential Medal of Freedom (1963), the Congressional Gold Medal (1977), the Kennedy Center Honors (1978), and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (1991).
Broadway songstress Audra McDonald would make the perfect actress to play Marian Anderson.
The Otis Redding Story starring Jonathan Majors
Dawson, Georgia-born Otis Ray Redding Jr, is regarded as one of the greatest singers in American popular, soul, and R&B music history. Redding sang in the Vineville Baptist Church choir and learned guitar at an early age.
Redding’s mega-hit “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” became the first posthumous number-one record on both the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B charts.
He received many posthumous awards, including two Grammy Awards, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, and the Black Music & Entertainment Walk of Fame induction.
I’d love to see actor Jonathan Majors cast in the lead role of this legendary crooner nicknamed the King of Soul.
The Donny Hathaway and Roberta Flack story starring DB Woodside and Lorraine Toussaint
Donny Hathaway and Roberta Flack are among the best African American recording duos of the 1970s. The two had been friends since they first met at Howard University. At the urging of Jerry Wexler of Atlanta Records, the label mates teamed up with the release of Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway. The album’s third single, “Where Is the Love,” hit #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and won them a Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.
According to published reports, Donny’s battle with depression and paranoid schizophrenia led to many conflicts in his professional and personal lives. Unfortunately, it led him to spiral down a dark path, ultimately leading to his death when he fell from the 15th floor of New York’s Essex Hotel.
Hathaway and Flack had returned to the studio to start recording a new album; they had not finished it before he died. The last two duets from this successful pairing were “You Are My Heaven” and “Back Together Again” (1980).
DB Woodside and Lorraine Toussaint would be perfectly cast in the lead roles.