The studio has been developing “Taking Flight” since 2015, when it first bought rights to Michaela and Elaine DePrince’s memoir, “Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina.” The book follows Michaela DePrince’s life from an orphan in war-torn Sierra Leone to a world-renowned ballerina.
“Michaela’s journey resonated with me deeply as both an artist and an activist who understands adversity,” Madonna said. “We have a unique opportunity to shed light on Sierra Leone and let Michaela be the voice for all the orphaned children she grew up beside. I am honored to bring her story to life.”
Madonna will direct from a screenplay by Camilla Blackett (“New Girl”). Alloy Entertainment’s Leslie Morgenstein and Elysa Koplovitz Dutton will produce alongside Ben Pugh and Guy Oseary. MGM Production president Jonathan Glickman and Tabitha Shick are overseeing the project on behalf of the studio.
“We were immediately awestruck by Michaela’s journey and know Madonna’s vision and passion for the material will deliver a film that inspires audiences everywhere,” Morgenstein said.
DePrince was adopted at the age of four and taken to the United States by Elaine and Charles DePrince. She was featured in the 2012 ballet documentary “First Position” and later debuted as a professional dancer at the age of 17 in the Joburg Ballet in South Africa. She appeared in Beyonce’s “Lemonade” in 2016 and is currently a soloist at the Dutch National Ballet.
Madonna made her feature directing debut on the 2008 British comedy “Filth and Wisdom.” She also helmed and co-wrote 2011’s “W.E.,” which chronicled the relationship between King Edward VIII and American divorcee Wallis Simpson. Her upcoming projects include co-writing and directing a film adaptation of Andrew Sean Greer’s novel “The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells.”
Madonna also produced and wrote “I Am Because We Are,” a documentary about Malawi’s million orphans in the wake of the AIDS pandemic. She is the highest-selling female recording artist of all time, with more than 300 million albums sold worldwide.
Glickman said, “We could not be more thrilled that Madonna will bring this remarkable story to the big screen. There is no director better suited to tell Michaela’s journey with passion and sensitivity, and we cannot wait to bring this film to audiences all around the world.”
MGM teamed with Alloy on the romantic drama “Everything, Everything,” based on Nicola Yoon’s best-selling novel. The studio also produced “Me Before You,” inspired by Jojo Moyes’ international best-seller, and “If I Stay,” based on Gayle Forman’s young adult best-seller.
MGM’s upcoming slate includes a pair of projects directed by women: Ry Russo-Young’s “The Sun Is Also a Star” and Rachel Lee Goldenberg’s “Valley Girl.” Its other films are “The Hustle,” a comedy starring Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson; “Fighting With My Family,” a comedy-drama with Florence Pugh, Vince Vaughn, and Dwayne Johnson; “Operation Finale,” toplined by Oscar Isaac and Ben Kingsley; and “Creed II,” starring Sylvester Stallone and Michael B. Jordan.
Alloy’s credits include the TV shows “Pretty Little Liars,” “The Vampire Diaries,” and “Gossip Girl,” as well as the films “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” and “Sex Drive.”
Madonna is represented by CAA and Maverick Management. ICM Partners and Full Circle Literary rep “Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina.”