NEW YORK — Angela Bassett has agreed to star in “Wings Against the Wind,” a biopic about Bessie Coleman, the first licensed black pilot.
The film will be directed by Euzhan Palcy (“A Dry White Season”) and Bassett’s co-stars include Danny Glover, Gerard Depardieu, Aidan Quinn, Don Cheadle, Richard Brooks, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Harold Perrineau and Wendall Pierce.
Palcy will produce through her company, Saligna and So On Prods. With commitments from that bankable cast, she will head to the Cannes Film Festival to sell rights and put together the film’s budget.
The director, who came up with the story and wrote the screenplay with Candace Allen, called the Coleman saga “an epic action love story.”
When Coleman decided she wanted to fly, only whites were accepted into flight schools in America, and few females. After discovering that European flight schools would accept women, Coleman saved money by doing manicures and learned to speak French. After being licensed in France, she flew back to the U.S., where on June 15, 1921, she became the second American to be internationally licensed. Coleman died April 30, 1926, in a flying accident.
Aside from aerial acrobatics, Palcy said the film will rely on music of the period: “Chicago blues and jazz, and Harlem showtunes, ragtime and Southern gospel.”
Bassett next will be onscreen in Robert Zemeckis’ “Contact.” She begins work in June on “When Stella Got Her Groove Back” at Fox. She hopes to be starring for Palcy in 1998.