Playwright Lorraine Hansberry will be immortalized in a biopic about her road to success during the 1950′s-60′s, sources say. Hansberry originated the classic stageplay, “A Raisin in the Sun,” and she was also an activist for her community. Hansberry’s life’s story will be the product of a collaborative effort by her grand niece, Taye Hansberry, as well as Numa Perrier, author of “The Couple.”
The film will star Taye in the title role, and will be directed by Perrier. Issa Rae is set to play Nina Simone, who was a close friend of Hansberry until her death. Jaleel White will play James Baldwin, Hansberry’s close friend and confidant. Will Stewart (Casting Director for “Scandal”) will cast the project, with additional announcements to come.
Hansberry was the first Black playwright and the youngest American to win a New York Critics’ Circle award. She reached unprecedented heights, and earned international recognition, for her seminal play about a struggling black family in Chicago, A Raisin in the Sun (a line taken from a Langston Hughes poem). It was the first play produced on Broadway by an African American woman. It opened at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on March 11, 1959, and was a huge hit among all stageplay enthusiasts, black or white.
The film version of A Raisin in the Sun was completed in 1961, starring Sidney Poitier. Throughout her life, Hansberry was heavily involved in civil rights, and died very young at just 34 of pancreatic cancer.