NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A movie is in the works to tell the story of the Fisk Jubilee Singers on the big screen. Nikki Burdine sat down with the producer to hear about the script and how he plans to give back using the film.
The Fisk Jubilee Singers, known worldwide for their talent, will soon be the center of a major motion picture called, Steal Away.
The movie will tell the incredible true story of a young choir, full of former slaves who helped save historically Black colleges and universities on the heels of the Civil War.
“Against all odds, they conquered the nation in the sense of bringing desegregation, to great swathes of the country, to raising an incredible amount of money, to actually save hundreds and hundreds of schools,” said Stephen A. Blake, President, Realm Pictures. “It’s an incredible story about valor and courage.”
It follows their rise from slavery to their triumph in performing in ballrooms all over the world, to today, one of the most revered choirs in the world.
The film is based on the true story of the book, Dark Midnight When I Rise, by Andrew Ward. “This film will be a musical drama, or I might say, a period drama replete with rich, emotional, evocative music,” said Blake.
Blake has taken a unique approach to casting the film to bring in talent that’s outside of the industry, a flaw Blake has seen all too often throughout his career. “A young Black woman or young white woman coming out of an HBCU or another institution might have the writing this gift of Shakespeare, but the industry is not interested in you and will not read a page of your work. You might be the most brilliant actor since Marlon Brando or Denzel Washington, or the most amazing actress since a Meryl Streep, for example, but industry is not interested,” said Blake.
So, they plan to seek talent in a different way. “We’re going to be consistently drawing amazing talent from our HBCU campuses, literary talent, performing arts, talent, technical talent and Nashville and Tennessee will play a particular role in this.”
Blake is also funding the project in a different way. First, they plan to launch a crowdfunding campaign that will soon kick-off. With the help of investors and donations, they hope to raise $34.7 million dollars.
Once the goal is reached, Blake says they will donate 10% of all net revenues for the movie to HBCUs across the country, including Fisk University.
Telling the story of the Jubilee Singers is more than just about entertainment. For Blake, it’s about representation. “It’s as if stories that have involved people of color haven’t really mattered enough,” he said. “That’s why we’re not on screen, that’s why our songs don’t permeate, sort of the musical sphere.”
Blake said he wants people to walk away entertained, but also know this, “If Fisk University hadn’t existed, this world would be a different place today.”
If you are interested in auditioning or donating to the campaign, visit StealAwayMovie.com.