Ryan Destiny has landed her first major studio film. The former Star actress will play Claressa "T-Rex" Shields in the Universal biopic, Flint Strong. The movie is the directorial debut of Black Panther director of photography and Mudbound cinematographer Rachel Morrison. It was written by Barry Jenkins.
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, Mudbound, and became the first woman to earn an Oscar nod for Best Cinematography.
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 at, 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, who came from the "hard knocks" streets of Flint, Michigan, 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.
Variety first reported Destiny's casting.
Photo: Getty Images
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