We stan a booked and busy queen.

Danielle Brooks, who turned heads in her role as Taystee on Netflix series Orange Is the New Black and as Sofia on Broadway’s The Color Purple, is set to shine as the gospel legend and civil rights activist in Lifetime’s Robin Roberts Presents: The Mahalia Jackson Story. 

The biopic will tell the story of the New Orleans–born Jackson, who went on to become one of the most revered gospel figures in U.S. history. Roberts previously executive-produced the cable movie Stolen by My Mother: The Kamiyah Mobley Story, so we can’t wait to see how she brings Jackson’s story to life on-screen.

Jackson’s recording of the song “Move on Up a Little Higher” sold millions of copies, skyrocketing her to international fame as she performed in front of racially integrated audiences at Carnegie Hall and John F. Kennedy’s inaugural ball. Jackson was an active supporter of the Civil Rights Movement, singing at rallies like the March on Washington in 1963 alongside the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Having had the privilege of working with Kenny on Steel Magnolias and Robin Roberts on Stolen by My Mother, I am ecstatic to have them join forces to work together on this special project,” said Tanya Lopez, executive VP of movies, limited series and original movie acquisitions for Lifetime and LMN. “Adding Danielle Brooks as Mahalia is icing on the cake. This team is committed in celebrating the legacy of Mahalia and reintroducing her to a world that needs her spirit more than ever.”

The film comes on the heels of the success of April’s The Clark Sisters: The First Ladies of Gospel, which drew the biggest same-day audience for a Lifetime movie in four years.


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