Fantasia to Play Mahalia Jackson in First Film Role

R&B songstress Fantasia Barrino has officially landed her first feature film role. The American Idol alum and VH1 reality show star has been cast to star in the film adaptation of the 1993 book Got to Tell It: Mahalia Jackson, Queen of Gospel, which recounts the life of the late American gospel singer, a civil rights activist who was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Coming from a trouble background herself, Fantasia will portray Jackson on her journey from abject poverty in New Orleans to her rise as a global figure in gospel and early supporter of Martin Luther King, Jr. The singer died in 1972 at the age of 60.

Jackson grew up in the Black Pearl section of Uptown’s Carrollton neighborhood, and one of New Orleans’ premier performance spaces still bears her name. She moved to Chicago at age 16, where her membership in a church choir vaulted her to eventual stardom.

The film will go into production in April 2011 in Pittsburgh and Chicago.

Euzhan Palcy (a producer on Will Smith’s nascent Hurricane Katrina film, “The American Can”) will direct, working from a script by Jim Evering.

Fantasia’s biggest past roles to date are Celie in the Broadway version of The Color Purple and herself in the 2006 Lifetime biopic “Life Is Not a Fairy Tale: The Fantasia Barrino Story.”


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