Octavia Spencer and Queen Latifah are working together to bring the real-life 1925 divorce trial of Leonard Rhinelander, an upper-class man from New Rochelle, New York, and Alice Jones Rhinelander, a working-class woman with African-American ancestry, to the big screen.
According to Deadline, the duo, along with Dave Broome and Mark and Christine Holder, will produce The Rhinelander Affair, a film adaptation to the book written by William Kinsolving detailing the entire affair and America’s obsession with race, class and sexism. Latifah will produce via her and Shakim Compere’s production company, Flavor Unit Entertainment.
The story involves the relationship between Leonard and Alice, who was one-fourth black. They married in secret, and after finding out, his family forced an annulment trial to prove Alice tricked Leonard into marrying him. Alice admitted in court that she told Leonard of her heritage, but the trial resulted in the court humiliating Alice in front of an all-male, all-white jury by asking her to disrobe to prove she wasn’t “a Negro.” However, the jury found in favor of Alice, but Leonard, who was now disowned, filed for divorce, to which Alice counter-sued. In 1930, Alice received $31,500 and a $3,600 annuity for life, according to NPR.
Spencer will be seen next in Apple’s Are You Sleeping, which also stars Ron Cephas Jones and Mekhi Phifer, and will executive produce with Dreamworks The Green Book, a film detailing the real-life Green Book that helped African-American travelers safely throughout the South, starring Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellini and Viggo Mortensen and will be in theaters this November. She will also star in a limited series on Madame CJ Walker and produce it for Netflix with LeBron James as well as Mark and Christine Holder.