Brian Tyree Henry Joins Ryan Destiny In Barry Jenkins-Written Claressa Shields Biopic, Replacing Ice Cube
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Brian Tyree Henry Joins Ryan Destiny In Barry Jenkins-Written Claressa Shields Biopic, Replacing Ice Cube

Brian Tyree Henry is replacing Ice Cube in the Claressa Shields biopic Flint Strong, which stars Ryan Destiny. Written by Barry Jenkins, it is the feature directorial debut of Black Panther cinematographer Rachel Morrison. Henry will play her coach.

The Hollywood Reporter broke the news of the casting and also reported that the film is no longer at Universal Pictures and is now at MGM.

Producers Michael De Luca and Eisha Holmes moved to MGM and parked it there, also bringing on Jenkins as a producer.

Production will restart soon after being delayed due to the pandemic. The film shot for two days before production was halted.

Prior to the pandemic, the project has been in the works for some time, with Jenkins being attached to the project during the awards campaign for 'Moonlight' before the Oscar wins. 

Morrison is a frequent collaborator of Ryan Coogler, working with him on both Fruitvale Station and Black Panther. She also worked with Dee Rees on her 2017 film, Mudboundand became the first woman to earn an Oscar nod for Best Cinematography.

Oluniké Adeliyi is still playing Shields’ mother.

In a statement received by THR, Jenkins said:

“Given the difficulties we’ve faced as a global community over the past two years, I salute Rachel for continuing the journey of bringing this wonderful story from Flint, Michigan to the big screen. Like our protagonist, Rachel Morrison is made of tough stuff, and we all look forward to supporting her and this tremendous cast in getting this film into the can and into a theater near you.”

The film is based on 'T-Rex,' a 2015 documentary about Shields.

The tri-continental effort (North America, Europe and Asia) hailed from directors Drea Cooper and Zackary Canepari, who began work on the doc in 2012, en route to a successful $64,000 crowdfunding campaign – funds that were used to complete the film. A major part of the funding also came courtesy of Independent Lens. Universal, where the project is set up, acquired Shields’ life rights and the rights to the documentary in 2016.

At 21, Shields, a world champion boxer, took home the Olympic gold medal for the United States in 2012, the year Women’s Boxing was first considered for the competition. She was the youngest of all the competitors. After T-Rex's debut, she went on to win another gold medal for the U.S. in 2016.

Shields became an undefeated fighter. Her coach, Jason Crutchfield, has trained her since she was an 11-year-old hanging out at his gym. Despite the growing tension between her and Crutchfield, as well as with her family, as she got closer and closer to achieving her dream, a fierce and determined Claressa desperately wanted to take her family to a better, safer place, and winning a gold medal was her one big chance.

Shadow and Act had the opportunity to talk to Shields back when the documentary premiered and spoke about her then future aspirations. “I want to be an actress, I think I can do dramas or maybe even a boxing movie, kind of like a Taraji P. Henson or something. I want to move my family to Florida as well. I’m not sure about going pro, but I want my boxing career to progress. Overall, I just want to go down in history as the best female fighter to ever live, that’s my overall goal,” she said in part.

Shadow and Act is a website dedicated to cinema, television and web content of Africa and its global Diaspora. With daily news, interviews, in-depth investigations into the audiovisual industry, and more, Shadow and Act promotes content created by and about people of African descent throughout the world.

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