The movie has been in the works since 2014 when Paula Wagner acquired the film rights to the life story of Robinson, the founder of Sugar Hill Records. The script, written by Tracy Oliver, Malcolm Spellman, and Carlito Rodriguez, details how Robinson became a music mogul after recording 1979’s “Rapper’s Delight.”
Robinson’s career stretches back to being half of the duo Mickey & Sylvia (best known for the 1957 hit “Love Is Strange”). She died in 2011 at the age of 76.
“Dear White People,” a comedy centered on African-American college students, won the special jury prize at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. Simien directed from his own script and produced. The movie was bought by Roadside Attractions and spun off into a Netflix series of the same name in 2017. Simien recently completed production on the horror comedy “Bad Hair,” starring Laverne Cox, Vanessa Williams, and Michelle Hurd.
Wagner is producing through her Chestnut Ridge Productions along with Homegrown Pictures’ Stephanie Allain and Kraftbox Entertainment’s Robert Kraft. Niija Kuykendall brought the project to Warner Bros. and is the executive in charge. Sylvia Robinson’s son Leland Robinson and Oliver are executive producers. The news of Simien’s hiring was first reported by Deadline Hollywood.