Regina King to Portray Political Icon Shirley Chisholm in Upcoming Biopic From John Ridley

Regina King attends the 2019 Film Independent Spirit Awards on February 23, 2019 in Santa Monica, California.
Regina King attends the 2019 Film Independent Spirit Awards on February 23, 2019 in Santa Monica, California.
Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer (Getty Images)

The life of Shirley Chisholm, the United States’ first Black congresswoman, will be getting the biopic treatment (yet again)—only this time it’s coming from John Ridley and award-winning actress and One Night in Miami director Regina King.


Per a press release sent to The Root, Shirley will “track the dynamic presidential campaign launched in 1972 by America’s first Black congresswoman, Shirley Chisholm. Based on her life story rights through an exclusive agreement with the Chisholm Estate, the film offers an intimate, behind-the-scenes portrait of one of the most ground-breaking political leaders of our time during a seminal period in modern American history.” Academy Award-winning filmmaker John Ridley will pen the script and direct with Regina King and Reina King of Royal Ties Productions set to produce for Participant Films. Jeff Skoll and Anikah McLaren have also been tapped to executive produce. Speaking on the new film and Regina’s casting, Ridley explained:

“Regina’s passion for bringing a complete and very human portrait of Shirley to life has been evident since literally the day we first met. I’m very thankful to both Regina and Reina trusting me to partner in telling the story of this truly remarkable individual.”

King added, “Shirley Chisholm’s fearless determination has been an inspiration to so many of us, and with this film, we hope to inspire many generations to come. To collaborate once again with my friend and mentor, John Ridley, and the team at Participant makes this decade-long journey even sweeter.”

King, who’s currently featured on the cover of The Hollywood Reporter, spoke with Gina Prince-Bythewood about the greatness of past and current Black women icons and on her own perceived expectation following the stellar reception of her directorial debut.

“I feel like just as Black women, we are so conditioned to not feel that it’s OK to want to be great. Hence how I came into my whole response when you asked that question. But also, something I find often with Black women is that you give us a little window, we’re going to kick it all the way open and take that moment. And sometimes it can be perceived as taking all the air out of the room or, ‘Wow, she is so big, she’s so [loud].’ But it’s also the very thing that makes us unique; it’s the history of what the Black woman has had to endure that has become part of our DNA. So when you see that window just crack open, you push through.”

Production for Shirley is expected to begin sometime later this year.