The biopic on groundbreaking boxer Claressa “T-Rex” Shields has found its director. Another history maker, cinematographer Rachel Morrison, will be helming the project, Flint Strong, in her directorial debut.
She’ll be directing a script from Barry Jenkins. The project has been in the works for some time, with Jenkins being attached to the project during the awards campaign for Moonlight, before it won Oscars. The film is based on T-Rex, a 2015 documentary about Shields. The tri-continental effort (North America, Europe and Asia) hailed from directors Drea Cooper and Zackary Canepari, who began work on the doc in 2012, en route to a successful $64,000 crowdfunding campaign – funds that were used to complete the film. Although a major part of the film’s funding came courtesy of Independent Lens. Universal, where the project is set up at, acquired Shields’ life rights and the rights to the documentary in 2016.
Morrison is a frequent collaborator of Ryan Coogler, working with him on both Fruitvale Station and Black Panther. She also worked with Dee Rees on her 2017 film, Mudbound, and became the first woman to earn an Oscar nod for Best Cinematography.
At 21, Shields, a World Champion boxer, took home the Gold Medal for the United States in the 2012 Olympic Games, the first year Women’s Boxing was considered for competition. After T-Rex’s debut, she went on to take another gold medal for the U.S. in 2016.
Fighting for gold was Shields, who came from the “hard knock” streets of Flint, Michigan, and went on to be undefeated as a fighter. Her coach, Jason Crutchfield, has trained her since she was an 11-year-old hanging out at his gym. Despite the growing tension between her and Crutchfield, as well as with her family, as she got closer and closer to achieving her dream, a fierce and determined Claressa desperately wanted to take her family to a better, safer place, and winning a gold medal was her one big chance. At the 2012 summer Olympics in London, women’s boxing was a first-time-ever sport, with Claressa being the youngest of all the competitors.
Shadow And Act had the opportunity to talk to Shields back when the documentary premiered and spoke about her then-future aspirations. “I want to be an actress, I think I can do dramas or maybe even a boxing movie, kind of like a Taraji P. Henson or something. I want to move my family to Florida as well. I’m not sure about going pro, but I want my boxing career to progress. Overall, I just want to go down in history as the best female fighter to ever live, that’s my overall goal,” she said in part.