Danielle Brooks to Star in Robin Roberts Presents: The Mahalia Jackson Story

Danielle Brooks attends the 13th Annual Essence Black Women In Hollywood Awards Luncheon on February 06, 2020 in Beverly Hills, California.
Danielle Brooks attends the 13th Annual Essence Black Women In Hollywood Awards Luncheon on February 06, 2020 in Beverly Hills, California.
Photo: David Livingston/Getty Images (Getty Images)

Can we get a ‘Hallelujah’ for Danielle Brooks? The Orange Is the New Black star has been cast to portray gospel legend Mahalia Jackson in Lifetime’s Robin Roberts Presents: The Mahalia Jackson Story.


According to The Hollywood Reporter, the newly announced role is the first of a four-film deal between Roberts and Lifetime. The acclaimed Good Morning America anchor previously worked with Lifetime when she executive-produced the film Stolen by My Mother: The Kamiyah Mobley Story as well as producing and hosting a documentary special based on the real-life case

THR provides more deets:

The Mahalia Jackson Story will trace Jackson’s life and career as she became arguably the best known gospel singer in the mid-20th century and a civil rights activist who sang at the 1963 March on Washington. She sold millions of records and was the first gospel singer to perform at Carnegie Hall. She also sang at John F. Kennedy’s inaugural ball in 1961.

“Having had the privilege of working with Kenny [Leon] on Steel Magnolias and Robin Roberts on Stolen by My Mother, I am ecstatic to have them join forces to work together on this special project,” Tanya Lopez, Executive VP movies, Limited Series and Original Movie Acquisitions for Lifetime and LMN said in a statement. “Adding Danielle Brooks as Mahalia is icing on the cake. This team is committed in celebrating the legacy of Mahalia and reintroducing her to a world that needs her spirit more than ever.”

Of course, this comes at a perfect time for the network, after the huge success of The Clark Sisters: The First Ladies of Gospel. The Clark Sisters biopic racked in 2.7 million viewers, Lifetime’s biggest same-day audience for an original movie in four years, and was a trending topic of Twitter.

Brooks’ Broadway experience will definitely factor here, as she made her Broadway debut portraying Sofia in the 2015 revival of the stage musical, The Color Purple. Brooks is making a name for herself in multiple lanes, too. After welcoming her first child in November 2019, the multifaceted actress launched a clothing line for moms!


This is still in the early stages, so no word yet on when this biopic will premiere, but we’ll keep you posted once it’s confirmed! We’ll probably have another Black Twitter live-tweet session on our hands!

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Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.



Me, four days ago:

Where would we BE if Ella Fitzgerald, Bessie Smith, Mahalia Jackson, Sarah Vaughn, Nina Simone, Aretha or even Stephanie Mills had been required to pass the fuckability test of the Black dudes of today?