There’s bad casting, there’s good casting, and there’s great casting.
Then there’s “OH MY GOD, ARE YOU SERIOUS. THIS IS PERFECT. HE/SHE/THEY’RE GONNA ABSOLUTELY KILL THIS ROLE! GIVE THEM THE EMMY NOW” casting. And the news I’m about to share with you all falls into the latter category.
On Thursday, it was announced that Star and BET’s The New Edition Story star Elijah Kelley would be portraying the iconic and legendary jazz entertainer Sammy Davis Jr. in an upcoming limited series for Hulu.
Directed by Lee Daniels, the untitled project is based on Wil Haygood’s book, In Black and White: The Life of Sammy Davis Jr., and will center around Davis’ “rise from childhood stardom on the vaudeville stage where he became one of the most famous Black entertainers of the 1950s and ’60s (and the only Black member of Frank Sinatra’s Rat Pack). At the same time, he spent most of his career surrounded by controversy and ridicule—over his affairs with white film stars, his 1960 marriage to Swedish actress May Britt, his conversion to Judaism, his closeness to the Kennedys (and later Richard Nixon) and his problems with alcohol and drugs,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Daniels, along with Thomas Westfall, will pen the series as well as serve as executive producer. Kelley will also produce alongside Haygood.
“I’ve worked and prayed all my life to one day have this opportunity to honor the iconic legacy of Mr. Sammy Davis Jr. That day is here,” Kelley captioned in an Instagram post sharing the news. “Thank you @leedaniels @hulu @disney and everyone that has ever ‘believed-in’ or ‘believed-with’ me.”
Though there’s no word yet on a potential production start date, I can’t help but already feel like this series is gonna be phenomenal. Kelley has long demonstrated his stellar acting, singing, and dancing abilities since 2007's Hairspray and The Wiz Live in 2015. And don’t even get me started on his amazing performance as Ricky Bell in The New Edition Story (the latter of which I still have on my DVR despite the fact that it regularly plays on BET. It was the cultural reset I needed. What can I say?) I have zero doubts that he won’t give his absolute all to this role.