Black biopics Hollywood should make right now Part 1

Leontyne Price Photo (c) Jack Mitchell

Biographical films, or biopics, give audiences a dramatized look into a famous person’s life. What’s Love Have To Do With is among my all-time favorite biopic films. The film had the one thing that could help to make a successful bio-flick, the subject’s permission (or at least their family/estate’s permission).  

On the other side of the spectrum is ALI starring Will Smith. While some raved about Smith’s performance, I was less impressed with the film’s ability to bring new facts about the sport’s icon life. A movie surrounding The Fight of the Century Mohammed Ali vs. Joe Frazier from 1971 or its follow-ups, Super Fight II (1974) or Thrilla in Manila (1975), would have made for a much more focused film. 

While everyone, including me, considers themselves an expert on this subject, I think you will agree with my list of Black biopics Hollywood should make now; check them out.

The Leontyne Price Story starring Regina Taylor 

Leontyne Price Photo (c) Jack Mitchell

Leontyne Price is a 13-time Grammy award winner with many awards and honors bestowed over a lifetime. Price was the first African American soprano to receive international accolades. She regularly appeared at the world’s major opera houses, including the Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Royal Opera House, and La Scala. If done correctly, this could be the role of a lifetime for any Black actress.

Regina Taylor would be my ideal actress for this part. 

The Pearl Bailey Story starring Queen Latifah 

Queen Latifah Photo (c) Associated Press

Pearl Mae Bailey began her career at 15 when she dropped out of high school and began singing and dancing in Philadelphia’s Black nightclubs. 

She appeared in nightclubs, singing with big bands, including those led by Count Basie and Cab Calloway.

Bailey appeared in numerous movies, such as Porgy and BessCarmen Jones, and St. Louis Blues with Ruby Dee, Eartha Kitt, and Nat King Cole. In 1946, she appeared on Broadway in St Louis Woman, winning a Donaldson Award as the Best Broadway Newcomer. In 1976, Bailey received a Special Tony Award for her performance in the all-black production of Hello, Dolly! In 1976, she was the first African American to receive the Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award. 

Queen Latifah is my ideal performer to portray Pearl Bailey on the big screen. 

The Colin Powell Story starring Jeffrey Wright

Colin Luther Powell was born in Harlem and raised in the South Bronx. Powell was the first African American to become the secretary of state. He also served as the national security advisor and the joint chiefs of staff chairman.

He was a professional military man for over three decades, holding many positions and rising to four-star general. As the joint chiefs of staff chairman, he oversaw many crises, including Operation Desert Storm. 

In October 2021, Powell died from complications due to COVID-19.

Jeffrey Wright, best known for his outstanding portrayal of Belize in the Broadway production of Angels in America and its HBO series adaptation, would kill this role. 

The Fannie Lou Hamer Story starring Octavia Spencer

Fannie Lou Hamer was a community organizer, civil and women’s rights activist. Along with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Hamer helped to organize Mississippi’s Freedom Summer. She co-founded the National Women’s Political Caucus, an organization founded to train, recruit and support women of all races who wish to seek election to government office. 

I could see actress Octavia Spencer giving an Oscar-worthy performance as Hamer. 

The Sarah Vaughan Story starring Aunjanee Ellis

Sarah Vaughan Photo (c) William P. Gottlieb, Aunjanue Ellis Photo (c) Sam Santos | George Pimental Photography

The American jazz singer, whose nickname was “Sassy,” won two Grammy awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award. Sarah Lois Vaughan developed a love for music at an early age. She took piano lessons at the age of seven. As a teen, she began venturing illegally into Newark’s nightclubs and performing as a pianist and singer. 

Actress Aunjanee Ellis delivered an outstanding performance as Mattie Moss Clark, the mother of The Clark Sisters, in the television film The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel.  Smart money would place bets that Ellis could perform exceptionally well in the lead as this jazz icon.

The August Wilson Story starring Roger Guenveur Smith

August Wilson was a playwright known for a series of plays collectively called The Pittsburgh Cycle. The series include Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (1984), Fences (1987), Joe Turner’s Come and Gone (1988), and The Piano Lesson (1990). 

Wilson was the fourth of six children. His mother raised him and his siblings in a two-room apartment behind a grocery store. His dad was mostly absent from his childhood. His works delve into the African American experience and examinations of the human condition. 

Fences earned him a Pulitzer Prize and a Tony Award in 1987. In 1990, he won another Pulitzer Prize for The Piano Lesson

Roger Guenveur Smith would meet this challenge in the lead role hands down.

Black biopics Hollywood should make right now Part 2.

Black biopics Hollywood should make right now Part 3