ABC’s “Women of the Movement,” tells the story of Mamie Till-Mobley, mother of Emmett Till. The six-episode series debuts Jan 2022 and will follow Mamie Till Mobley’s journey after her son is brutally murdered in the Jim Crow South. Mamie Till-Mobley devoted her life to seeking justice for her son Emmett Till. The series was inspired by the book “Emmett Till: The Murder That Shocked the World and Propelled the Civil Rights Movement” by Devery S. Anderson. Unwilling to let Emmett’s murder disappear from the headlines, Mamie chose to bear her pain on the world’s stage, emerging as an activist for justice and igniting the civil rights movement as we know it today.
“Women of the Movement” is produced by Kapital Entertainment and created by Marissa Jo Cerar, who also serves as executive producer and showrunner. Reverend Wheeler Parker Jr., Dr. Marvel Parker, Ms. Ollie Gordon, and Christopher Benson serve as consultants for the series. Executive producers are Aaron Kaplan, Dana Honor, and Michael Lohmann for Kapital Entertainment; Shawn Carter, Jay Brown and Tyran “Ty Ty” Smith for Roc Nation; Will Smith and James Lassiter for Westbrook; Rosanna Grace for Serendipity Group Inc.; Alex Foster and John Powers Middleton for Middleton Media Group; David Clark for Mazo Partners; and Gina Prince-Bythewood. The first episode is written by Marissa Jo Cerar and directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood. Tina Mabry, Julie Dash, and Kasi Lemmons also serve as directors on the limited series.
Set to bring this important, historical story to life, the series ensemble includes Adrienne Warren, starring as Mamie Till-Mobley; Tonya Pinkins, as Alma; Cedric Joe as Emmett Till; Ray Fisher as Gene Mobley; Glynn Turman as Mose Wright; Chris Coy as J.W. Milam; Carter Jenkins as Roy Bryant and Julia McDermott as Carolyn Bryant.
“I am thrilled to bring this project to television. It is unfortunately very timely, and my hope is to give the audience a chance to learn who Emmett Till really was – the boy, rather than the victim or the martyr – while also showcasing Mamie’s astonishing strength in the face of a mother’s worst nightmare,” said Marissa Jo Cerar. “Telling Emmett and Mamie’s story is a responsibility I have not taken lightly since I began this journey last year because this is more than a tragedy; it’s a story about a mother’s unwavering love for her son and her commitment to bettering the lives of all Black people. I can’t wait to start filming. With the brilliant Gina Prince-Bythewood as our director, we could not be in better hands.”
“The story of Emmett Till and Mamie Till is not one I want to tell. It is a story I need to tell,” said Gina Prince-Bythewood. “I am grateful to be on this journey with incredible collaborators who are determined to honor this mother and son with truth, authenticity, and humanity.”
Broadway Veteran and Tony Award-Winning Actress Adrienne Warren poignantly portrays Mamie Till-Mobley in the series. In 2016 she earned her first Tony Award for Best Actress for her role in “Shuffle Along, or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All that Followed. She also received critical acclaim for portraying the iconic Tina Turner in the Broadway production “Tina,” where she earned another Tony Award in 2020. The Chicago Defender spoke with Adrienne Warren about portraying such a poignant and influential figure in the civil rights movement.
Chicago Defender: How did you approach playing Mamie Till-Mobley, especially in a time when history seems to be repeating itself with so many racially motivated killings?
Adrienne Warren: Although we were telling the story of an event that took place in 1955, this is not a period piece. As you said, it is still happening. We were unbelievably grateful and blessed enough to have an opportunity to speak with one of those mothers, Representative Lucy Macbeth, who graciously gave us her time and talked to us about the murder of her son, Jordan Davis. She was an open book. She was so unbelievably gracious with sharing her experience, her feelings, and those moments in between that we don’t get to see. It is about who she is before she’s forced into activism due to the tragic death of her child. That is the story I wanted to tell. That’s the story Marissa Jo Cerar wrote.
My thoughts were if we could just give a little bit of a wider lens into the experience of these mothers, then hopefully, people could go out in the world and walk differently and see people with a bit more empathy. Could you see someone’s son or maybe your son before you choose to act with hate and ignorance? This series is more than the murder of Emmett Till, but it is about who that crime happened to.
Chicago Defender: What does playing this role mean to you personally?
Adrienne Warren: I did my best to take care of it. It meant so much to me. It still means so much to me. I feel like Mamie is still with me. I can feel her with me. I’m not a mom yet. I hope to be one day, but I am a black woman, and we love to take care. We nurture and love to be seen as superheroes, but nobody ever asks us how we got our capes. So I do know how that feels. I’m incredibly honored, grateful, and I did not take this challenge lightly.
Chicago Defender: Was there anything you learned about Mamie Till-Mobley that you weren’t aware of before?
Adrienne Warren: I didn’t know how young she was. We were the same age when we were filming this. She was 33 when her son was murdered. So often, we don’t know how young our heroes were. We see them and learn about our history while looking at black and white photos, but we don’t see them as us. We don’t think we have the power they had, but we do because they are us. Look at Mamie Till-Mobley and think about it. This one mom, age 33 who stepped into her power. Perseverance, faith, and a lot of pain, but a lot of conviction for justice. Look what it did. Look what her power did. It changed the world.
“Women of the Movement” debuts on ABC Thursday, January 6, 2022.