Billy Porter has been tapped to play novelist and civil rights activist James Baldwin in an upcoming biopic for Byron Allen’s Allen Media Group Motion Pictures.
Porter and Dan McCabe will pen the script for the theatrical feature based on David Leeming’s 1994 book James Baldwin: A Biography. Broadway-trained Porter is a longtime devotee of Baldwin, having quoted from the legendary author and civil rights campaigner during his 2019 Emmy-winning acceptance speech.
The deep dive into Baldwin’s life and struggles represents the culmination of a long-held creative ambition for the Emmy-, Tony- and Grammy Award-winning performer, who is one Oscar short of an EGOT. “As a Black queer man on this planet with relative consciousness, I find myself, like James Baldwin said, ‘in a rage all the time.’ I am because James was. I stand on James Baldwin’s shoulders, and I intend to expand his legacy for generations to come,” Porter said in a statement.
Born in Harlem in 1924, Baldwin was a gay African American writer and civil rights activist who spent much of his life outside the U.S. owing to the racism of his youth, and where he wrote extensively about Black identity, activism, sexuality and race relations.
His best-known books, including Go Tell It on the Mountain, Notes of a Native Son, Another Country and The Fire Next Time, have been turned into or inspired movies, including Barry Jenkins’ If Beale Street Could Talk and Raoul Peck’s I Am Not Your Negro documentary.
Porter’s Incognegro Productions will co-produce the Baldwin biopic along with Allen Media Group. “Billy Porter and Dan McCabe’s talent and commitment to amplifying James Baldwin’s legacy and contributions are invaluable and unmatched for this unique and epic story,” said Allen, chairman and CEO of Allen Media Group, in his own statement.
The executive producer credits will be shared by Allen, Carolyn Folks, Jennifer Lucas, Matthew Signer and Chris Charalambous. Porter and D.J. Gugenheim of Incognegro Productions will produce.
Porter and McCabe earlier sold their original TV idea Fruits of Thy Labor to Peacock, with Greg Berlanti and Warner Bros. Television Studios producing. McCabe’s feature The Home is currently in development at Paramount.
We’re happy to see James’ life and story getting the big screen treatment.