At the premiere of Lifetime’s Betty & Coretta, which stars Mary J. Blige and Angela Bassett, Blige exclusively told Blackfilm.com that her next film will be joining Bassett in Kasi Lemmons‘ musical ‘Black Nativity.’
The multi Grammy Award winning artist joins a cast that includes Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Jennifer Hudson, Jacob Latimore, Tyrese Gibson, Luke James, and Nas. The film is produced by William Horberg’s Wonderful Films, and Trudie Styler and Celine Rattray’s Maven Pictures, and will be financed, marketed and released worldwide by Fox Searchlight Pictures.
Black Nativity started production this month in New York. Originally written by Langston Hughes as a re-telling of the Bible’s nativity story, ‘Black Nativity’ follows Langston (JACOB LATIMORE), a street-wise teen from Baltimore raised by a single mother, as he journeys to New York City to spend the Christmas holiday with his estranged relatives Reverend Cornell and Aretha Cobbs (FOREST WHITAKER and ANGELA BASSETT). Unwilling to live by the imposing Reverend Cobbs’ rules, a frustrated Langston is determined to return home to his mother, Naima (JENNIFER HUDSON). Langston embarks on a surprising and inspirational journey and along with new friends, and a little divine intervention, he discovers the true meaning of faith, healing, and family.
Zola Mashariki, Senior Vice President of Production, along with Director of Production Richard Gold and Creative Executive Taylor Friedman are overseeing the project for Fox Searchlight Pictures.
Kasi Lemmons is writing and directing the film based on Langston Hughes’ gospel musical that was first performed on Broadway in 1961. The film will feature original lyrics and arrangements from Grammy winning singer, songwriter and record producer Raphael Saadiq (the band Tony! Toni! Toné!). Casting director Tracy ‘Twinkie’ Byrd is currently putting together the rest of the cast. Production should conclude in March.
Lemmons has stated, “This is a universal story of faith and family, a marker of our times, and an endearing Christmas tale, infused with music from hip-hop to R&B to gospel.”
Lifetime’s Betty & Coretta tells the dual stories of Coretta Scott King (Bassett) and Dr. Betty Shabazz (Blige) as they carry on as single mothers following the assassinations of their husbands, Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.
Blige last appeared on the big screen opposite Tom Cruise as Justice Charlier in the musical comedy and film adaptation of Broadway’s Rock of Ages. Her other film credits include Tyler Perry‘s I Can Do Bad All By Myself and Prison Song.