Viola Davis Plans Barbara Jordan Biopic


Following her Academy Award nomination for last year’s The Help, Viola Davis has plans to headline a biopic based on civil rights leader Barbara Jordan. Variety has the story, saying that Paris Barclay (“Smash”) will direct.

The film will be based on the biography, “Barbara Jordan: American Hero” by Mary Beth Rogers. The book itself is officially described as follows:

The first African American to serve in the Texas Senate since Reconstruction, Barbara Jordan was also the first black woman elected to Congress from the South, and the first to deliver the keynote address at a national party convention. Her powerful oratory stirred a nation; her ideals of ethical leadership inspired millions. Yet Jordan herself remained a mystery, a woman so private that even her close friends did not know the name of the illness that debilitated her for two decades until it struck her down at the age of fifty-nine.

Mary Beth Rogers first met Barbara Jordan in the 1960s, and their paths crossed over the years as they pursued their academic and political careers. Now Rogers’s meticulously documented biography deftly combines personal insight and impeccable research to explore the forces that shaped the moral character and quiet dignity of this extraordinary woman.

Examining Jordan’s stark childhood as the daughter of a Baptist preacher in sharply segregated Houston, Rogers reveals the seeds of her trademark stoicism and recaptures the essence of a black woman entering politics as the civil rights movement exploded across the nation. Jordan’s political career went on to be both groundbreaking and inspiring.

Combining elegance and passion, Barbara riveted the nation with her forceful defense of the United States Constitution during the Watergate hearings. She held an unwavering faith in the American people, heralding patriotism, justice, and compassion. And it seemed this rising political star would shine brightly well into the next century. Instead, Barbara Jordan gave up public life before her forty-fifth birthday amid rumors of a mysterious illness.

Jordan kept her private life and her personal struggles well-guarded secrets, shielding them right up until she died. Now, with cooperation from the Jordan estate, this illuminating portrayal gives new depth to our understanding of one of the most influential women of our time, a woman whose powerful convictions and flair for oratorical drama changed the political landscape of America’s twentieth century.

Davis will soon star in Gavin Hood’s Ender’s Game and Richard LaGravenese’s Beautiful Creatures.

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