The film depicts the life story of the pioneering bicycle racer, best known to the world as “Major” Taylor. At the turn of the 20th century, Taylor made history when he became the world’s fastest man, as well as America’s first Black world champion, at the height of the Jim Crow era. Set in the late 1890s and early 1900s, an official description of the film notes taht “Black Cyclone” follows Taylor as he “confronted racism, both subtle and deadly, yet triumphed with sheer will, the love of a woman, and his troubled alliances with a Black trainer and a white promoter.”
Of boarding the project as its director, Virgo said, “Major Taylor was a fascinating enigma, an athlete ahead of his time. I’m excited to collaborate in sharing the story of the fastest man in the world.”
Billed as one of Canada’s foremost film directors, Virgo has helmed projects including “The Book of Negroes” (a six-part miniseries adaptation of Lawrence Hill’s novel, starring Aunjanue Ellis), Netflix’s “The Get Down,” OWN’s “Greenleaf” and Showtime’s “Billions,” as well as the features “Poor Boy’s Game,” “Lie With Me” and “Rude.”
Minds Eye Entertainment’s Kevin Dewalt (“The Recall,” “Daughter of the Wolf,” “Dangerous”) is producing the film, from a script by Robert Eisele (“The Great Debaters,” “The Senior,” “Hurricane Season;” Eisele is repped by Echo Lake Entertainment). The sports saga is inspired by the critically acclaimed book “The World’s Fastest Man: The Extraordinary Life of Cyclist Major Taylor, America’s First Black Sports Hero,” from The Washington Post investigative reporter Michael Kranish. Production is set to begin in 2022.
In addition to producing “Black Cyclone,” Minds Eye Entertainment — which most recently released the thriller “Dangerous,” starring Scott Eastwood, Kevin Durand, Tyrese Gibson, Famke Janssen and Mel Gibson — will also handle its distribution.
Chris Kirkman, Rashid Bahati, Eric Mika and Natasha Semone Vassell will serve as executive producers, with Rahsaan Bahati, a 10-time U.S. pro champion cyclist, also serving as a consultant for the project. John Howard, a three-time Olympic cyclist and author of “Pushing the Limits,” “Dirt!,” “The Cyclist’s Companion” and “Mastering Cycling,” will also act as a consultant and executive producer.
(Pictured: Clement Virgo and an archival image of Marshall Walter ‘Major’ Taylor)