Lifetime announced today at its Television Critics Association virtual press tour panel that it has extended its deal with Good Morning America co-host Robin Roberts for four new programs under her Robin Roberts Presents production banner, Rock’n Robin Productions.
On the heels of her company’s first Lifetime film The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel and the film Stolen by My Mother: The Kamiyah Mobley Story, which debuted in May, the network has finally greenlit Roberts’ foray into the gospel music world with the biopic Robin Roberts Presents: The Mahalia Jackson Story.
Roberts signed a deal with Lifetime in July 2018 and this was supposed to be the debut movie from that partnership. Two years later, it appears both sides are now moving forward with this particular project.
Jackson is one most revered gospel figures in U.S. history, melding her music with the civil rights movement, making this a rather timely film. Her recording of the song Move on Up a Little Higher sold millions of copies, skyrocketing her to international fame and gave her the opportunity to perform at diverse settings including in front of a racially integrated audience at Carnegie Hall and at John F. Kennedy’s inaugural ball. Jackson sang at numerous civil rights rallies, including the March on Washington in 1963 alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in hopes that her music would encourage and inspire racial equality.
Tony Award-winning director Kenny Leon, who helmed Lifetime’s all-African-American remake of Steel Magnolias, will direct. Tony Award nominee, SAG and Grammy Award-winning actress Danielle Brooks (Orange Is the New Black) will star as gospel legend and civil rights activist Mahalia Jackson.
From Rock’n Robin Productions and Lincoln Square Productions, The Mahalia Jackson Story is executive produced by Roberts and Linda Berman.
Roberts launched Rock’n Robin Productions in September 2014, and has produced a number of documentaries , including her debut In the Game With Robin Roberts, which spotlights defensive lineman Michael Sam, who was cut by the St. Louis Rams at around launch time. In May 2014, Sam became the first openly gay player drafted by an NFL team.