Pearl Cleage Film Project Brings Novels of Iconic Author to Life

Pearl Cleage Film Project Brings Novels of Iconic Author to Life

Atlanta : GA : USA | Aug 21, 2012 at 8:21 AM PDT
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Author Pearl Cleage and Film maker Ayoka Chenzira Discuss Their Groundbreaking Collaboration

Recent outrage in response to shows like "Love & Hip-Hop Atlanta", "Basketball Wives" and the like, have focused on the complexity of Black Women's lives and the absence of any "reality" when it comes to portraying who women of color really are. This problem is as prevalent on the silver screen as it is on the small one. Yet, the works of author, playwright and activist, Pearl Cleage, known for portraying Black women in their nuance, magic and depth are destined to make cinematic history, backed by the creative direction of film making pioneer Ayoka Chenzira.

The Pearl Cleage Project leads off with adaptations of two of Cleage's New York Times Bestselling books, Babylon Sisters and What Looks Like Crazy on An Ordinary Day. Each is set in Atlanta, Georgia, Pearl's home since the late sixties and a quickly emerging production destination for Hollywood and the film industry. In Pearl's Atlanta, the city once dubbed "to busy to hate," is more than hip-hop and housewives.

According to Chenzira, "Pearl's work offers a fuller and unique expression of not only the lives of African American people but what it means to be human and grappling with personal and social challenges while still having hope and believing in love." It is through Pearl's works former Mayor Shirley Franklin introduced visiting dignitaries to Atlanta. She would also give copies of Pearl's books to those she met as she traveled abroad. "To have the Mayor of your town give your book to people to find out what we're really like is a great honor," Pearl notes.

The magnitude of this project extends beyond bringing fuller, more balanced narratives of Black women to the screen. Both Cleage and Chenzira are iconic, history making artists, their collaboration marking the first time an African-American female novelist and an African American female filmmaker have joined forces. Producers, Tandria Potts and Dana Offenbach have also signed on to bring Pearl's rich tapestry of characters to movie goers.

As the project is currently in development, the production team invites you into the mind of Pearl Cleage through a series of weekly vlogs, featuring the author on her career, in her own words. Thus far, the likes of Jane Fonda, Kenny Leon and Mayor Franklin have been tapped to participate in the project, sharing the impact Pearl's weaving of words have had on their personal and professional lives.

To learn more about the Pearl Cleage Film Project and the work of filmmaker Ayoka Chenzira, visit

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Pearl Cleage in her own words from the Pearl Cleage Project vlog.
Lauren Brown Jarvis is based in Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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