Whoopi Goldberg and Danielle Deadwyler are set to star in Till, an upcoming film about Mamie Till-Mobley’s crusade to get justice for her son and murder victim, Emmett Till. Till’s death at the hands of white racist men in Mississippi, and his open-casket funeral, became a watershed moment for the civil rights movement. Chinonye Chukwu will direct. Chukwu was announced as the film’s helmer last year.
Variety reports that Deadwyler will portray Till-Mobley, with Goldberg cast as Alma Carthan, Till’s grandmother. Goldberg will also produce with Keith Beauchamp, Barbara Broccoli. Thomas K. Levine, Frederick Zollo, and Michael JP Reilly. The film will be produced for MGM’s Orion Pictures.
The film will focus on Till-Mobley’s decision to have her son’s funeral feature an open casket to show how her son was brutalized before his death. The images from the funeral covered national newspapers, raising the awareness and urgency of the civil rights movement.
In a statement, Goldberg said that the film has been a long time coming.
“We have waited a very long time to bring this historically necessary important film to people,” she said. “And as we watch the repression of American History when it comes to people of color it makes it even that more important. I couldn’t be with better people: Fred, Barbara, Chinonye, Keith, Michael and Danielle.”
“It is a gift to learn the legacy and intimacies of our ancestors, those familial and communal, as is the life of Mamie Till-Mobley, a public leader and mother of the moment,” said Deadwyler about being cast as Till-Mobley.
When Shadow and Act announced Chinonye’s involvement with the film, the director talked about her excitement to bring Till-Mobley’s story to the big screen.
“The film is based on the extensive research of award-winning documentarian Keith Beauchamp and his relationship with Mamie Till Mobley and Emmett Till’s cousin, Simeon Wright who was an eyewitness to the kidnapping of Till and who served as a consultant to the project before his death in 2017,” she said in a statement. “For more than 27 years, Beauchamp has investigated the kidnapping, torture and murder of Emmett Till for whistling at a white woman. His efforts succeeded in getting the United States Department of Justice to reopen the case in 2004.”
This project isn’t the only one about Emmett Till in production. ABC anthology project, Women of the Movement will also feature Till’s story and his mother’s fight for justice, with Broadway star Adrienne Warren playing Mamie Space Jam: A New Legacy star Cedric Joe playing Emmett. Ray Fisher, Tonya Pinkins, Glynn Turman, Chris Coy, Carter Jenkins and Julia McDermott will also star.
Emmett Till was 14 years old when he was killed by Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam in Mississippi. Bryant’s wife Carolyn falsely testified that Till whistled at her, grabbed her and made sexual advances toward her. Till’s killers weren’t ever brought to justice, and Carolyn confirmed her story was a lie in 2017.