In an effort to expand is vast library of content based on real historical events and people, Netflix is teaming up with Oscar winner Regina King and John Ridley to tell the story of Shirley Chisholm, the first Black congresswoman in the United States and the first Black woman to run for president.
The movie is directed and written by John Ridley, whose directing credits include American Crime, Needle in a Timestack, Guerilla, Godfather of Harlem, and more. The film is created by Ridley End Regina King herself and her production company, Royal Ties Productions.
Netflix first unveiled the project in December 2021. Jeff Skoll and Ted Gidlow are executive producers on the project, and Elizabeth Haggard, Anikah McLaren, Regina King, and John Ridley are all listed as producers.
Director Ridley spoke about the origins of his collaboration with Regina King on this project:
“I first met Regina six, seven years ago when we were doing American Crime together. Our careers were in different places; Regina’s trajectory has always been pretty much straight up. But one of the topics that we were literally, truly, breaking bread, sitting down together trying to figure out our commonality, she brought up Shirley Chisholm.”
Composing the score for the movie is Tamar-Kali Brown. Cinematography is being handled by Ramsey Nickell, film editing by JoAnne Yarrow, production design by Dina Goldman, and costume design by Megan Coates.
What’s the plot of Netflix’s Shirley?
The feature film tells the story of trailblazing political icon Shirley Chisholm —the first Black Congresswoman and the first Black woman to run for President of the U.S.—and the cost of accomplishment for Shirley herself. Shirley follows the dynamic presidential campaign launched in 1972 by Shirley Chisholm. It will draw on exclusive and extensive conversations with Chisholm’s family and friends, following her amidst her boundary-breaking and historic presidential campaign.
The feature is based on her life story rights through an exclusive agreement with the Chisholm Estate, and the movie will provide an intimate, behind-the-scenes portrait of the ground-breaking political leader during a seminal period in modern American history.
This isn’t the first time in recent years that a major streaming service has tried to bring us the story of Shirley Chisholm to the big screen. In 2018, Viola Davis was attached to star in an Amazon Studios production.
Who is cast in Netflix’s Shirley?
The lead role of Shirley Chisholm in Netflix’s Shirley will be played by Oscar-winner Regina King, who in 2018 won her award in the category Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role for her performance in If Beale Street Could Talk. King commented on playing Chisholm in an 2021 interview:
Director John Ridley commented on working with King:
“One of the things I really, truly admire about Regina is not just her capacities as an actor but her capacities as an instrument to deliver empathy and this is one of the most empathetic, one of the most powerful human stories that I’ve had the opportunity to tell, and I’ve had the opportunity to tell some really amazing stories.”
In Shirley, Regina King will be joined by:
- Lance Reddick (John Wick franchise)
- Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea) as Robert Gottlieb
- André Holland (Passing) as Walter Fauntroy
- Terrence Howard (Empire) as Arthur Hardwick
- Christina Jackson (Swagger)
- Michael Cherrie (Home Again) as Conrad
- Dorian Missick (For Life) as Ron Dellums
- Amirah Vann (Underground) as Diahann Carroll
- W. Earl Brown (Deadwood) as George Wallace
- Newcomer Ethan Jones Romero.
What’s the production status of Shirley?
Netflix’s Shirley is currently in production in Cincinnati, US. Filming started there in December 2021 and according to director John Ridley, will continue there through March 2022 before heading to Los Angeles and then finishing the production in New York.
A view inside Shirley Chisolm’s campaign office for the Regina King movie about Chisholm. Filming on RAVE lighted Court St. pic.twitter.com/ELsWULsPau
— deron dixon (@djosephdixon) March 8, 2022
Speaking to local outlet WLWT, executive director of Film Cincinnati Kristen Schlotman said “We are thrilled to help bring this incredible motion picture to Cincinnati because of the jobs and economic impact it has on the region.”
They were filming at Arnold’s Bar and Grill on March 1st who uploaded to their Facebook some of the set photos.
According to Variety Insights, production was initially wrapped on April 1st, 2022.
In April 2023, World of Reel reported that there were numerous reshoots happening for the movie following numerous poor test screenings.
What’s the Netflix release date of Shirley?
In an early CNN interview, Regina King had cited an “end of 2022” release date, but as we now know, that hasn’t come to pass.
Instead, the movie was originally scheduled (as confirmed in the January 2023 movie slate reveal) to drop sometime in 2023 and as the year progressed, we learned that would no longer be the case. Netflix confirmed to us that the movie had been pushed back to 2024.
On September 7th, 2023, we learned that the movie had been officially rated by the Clarification and Rating Administration and given a PG-13 for strong language, including racial slurs, brief violence, and some smoking. This rating usually indicates the movie is close to release.
Will you be watching Shirley when it drops on Netflix? Let us know in the comments below.