Whoopi Goldberg, Danielle Deadwyler to Star in Movie About Emmett Till’s Mother Directed by Chinonye Chukwu

Whoopi Goldberg and Danielle Deadwyler will star in Chinonye Chukwu’s upcoming film “Till,” about Mamie Till-Mobley’s fight for justice for her 14-year-old son, Emmett Louis Till.

Deadwyler will portray Mamie Till-Mobley, while Goldberg is set to play Till’s grandmother, Alma Carthan. Goldberg will also serve as a producer on the project, for MGM’s Orion Pictures, alongside Keith Beauchamp, Barbara Broccoli, Thomas K. Levine, Michael JP Reilly and Frederick Zollo.

“We have waited a very long time to bring this historically necessary important film to people,” Goldberg said. “And as we watch the repression of American History when it comes to people of color it makes it even that more important. I couldn’t be with better people: Fred, Barbara, Chinonye, Keith, Michael and Danielle.”

Deadwyler, who is best known for her role in HBO’s “Watchmen,” said of being cast in the film, “It is a gift to learn the legacy and intimacies of our ancestors, those familial and communal, as is the life of Mamie Till-Mobley, a public leader and mother of the movement.”

“Till” chronicles Mamie’s decision to have an open casket at Emmett’s funeral and to allow Jet magazine publish David Jackson’s funeral photos, in order to ensure people everywhere saw the true horrors of her son’s murder. The decision from the grieving mother was a galvanizing moment that led to the creation of the civil rights movement.

“I am charged with humility and great will to embody her life at such an integral moment of personal tragedy and political rebellion, a boon to the civil rights movement, and to represent the joy in the love and life shared between Mamie Till and her beloved Emmett Till,” Deadwyler continued. “I am grateful for the women who support me as the one to carry the labor of this embodiment and as an inheritor of such a lineage. Much gratitude for Chinonye Chukwu, Barbara Broccoli, Whoopi Goldberg, Alana Mayo, and Pam Abdy, amongst many others, for the undertaking we seek to uplift and transfigure with this film.”

In addition to directing the project, Chukwu also wrote the screenplay, based on a previous draft by Beauchamp (“Till” is based in part on the original research for his award-winning 2005 documentary “The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till”) and Reilly. “Till” is the follow-up to Chukwu’s critically acclaimed film “Clemency,” starring Alfre Woodard and Aldis Hodge, which won the Sundance grand jury prize.

“I’m honored to be partnering with MGM’s Orion Pictures and an incredible producing team in telling a story that will delve deeply into the humanities of Mamie and Emmett, the love and joy they shared, and the activist consciousness that grows within Mamie as she seeks justice for her son,” Chukwu said.

About the film’s stars, she added: “I’m thrilled to be working with Danielle, a powerhouse of an actor, who will bring a brilliant complexity and groundedness to her portrayal of Mamie. And it is a dream come true to be working with the legendary Whoopi Goldberg, especially in telling this story.”

Principal photography on “Till” is set to begin in September in Atlanta.

“Mamie Till-Mobley was a singular voice who led the way for countless others who came after in her fight for justice,” Orion Pictures President Alana Mayo said. “Our visionary writer/director Chinonye Chukwu, and stellar producing team of Keith Beauchamp, Barbara Broccoli, Whoopi Goldberg, Thomas K Levine, Michael J P Reilly and Frederick Zollo, have worked tirelessly to bring her story to audiences everywhere and we are incredibly proud and humbled to join them in bringing Mamie’s story to the big screen.”

Deadwyler will next be seen in the Netflix western “The Harder They Fall,” HBO’s limited series “Station Eleven” and the Netflix limited series “From Scratch.” In addition to “Watchman,” Deadwyler has also appeared in “Atlanta,” “The Haves and the Have Nots,” “Greenleaf” and “Paradise Lost.”

Goldberg is the only Black woman to have won the Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony, among 16 artists to do so in all. Goldberg most recently appeared in the adaptation of Stephen King’s “The Stand” for CBS All Access and will next be seen in a recurring role on Amazon’s “Harlem.”

Deadwyler is represented by Paradigm, Play Management and Ziffren Brittenham. Goldberg is represented by WME. Chukwu is represented by CAA, Management 360 and Gochman Law. The producers are represented by Christian Simonds of the law firm Reed Smith LLP.