The Mahalia Jackson biopic, Remember Me: The Mahalia Jackson Story, will make its debut as the opener for the 2022 Pan African Film & Arts Festival in Los Angeles.
The film stars Ledisi as Jackson, one of the most popular gospel singers in the genre. The film also stars Columbus Short, Wendy Raquel Robinson, Janet Hubert, Vanessa Williams, Corbin Bleu and Keith David. The film is directed by Denise Dowse and executive produced by Ericka Nicole Malone and Vince Allen.
The film will chronicle Jackson's career as a singer and activist.
According to the official description, “Mahalia was not only regarded as an iconic gospel singer who broke racial and gender barriers, she was also recognized as a Civil rights activist who understood the power of her position within the movement. Remember Me highlights Mahalia’s unbreakable relationship with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (Columbus Short), and her integral role in the Civil rights movement by bringing Mahalia’s fight for freedom and her own personal search for love into the spotlight.”
Malone talked about what it was like to work with the cast when crafting the film, saying in a statement how honored she is to have the film open the film festival.
“I am from the South where Mahalia was considered a national treasure, so when I began writing Remember Me: The Mahalia Jackson Story in 2017 I wanted to carefully consider every word to honor this amazing woman. In creating these words for this film, I never imagined it would star the phenomenal musical icon Ledisi and renowned actor Columbus Short, “ she said. “To now have the honor of opening PAFF on its 30th anniversary, I am beyond blessed and excited. Premiering my film at a festival that was built on presenting the power of Black cinema is more than an honor, it is a blessing, and I don’t take it lightly.”
Back when Ledisi and Short's castings were announced in 2021, they issued statements about their excitement at portraying such pivotal characters in civil rights history.
“I am honored to be given a chance to paint the world through Mahalia’s eyes and sing her songs,” said Ledisi, adding that seeing Short “transform into Dr. Martin Luther King has been inspiring.”
“I am sharing space with so many amazing actors and with Ericka Nicole Malone’s words and being under the direction of the Great Denise Dowse I am thrilled to be telling the story of New Orleans Gospel Legend Mahalia Jackson.”
Short also said, “I have dreamed of playing this role for so many years. It is truly a great honor to portray a man that has made such an indelible impact on society and to all of our lives. I am thankful to Ericka for the opportunity and proud to play alongside a wonderful cast.”
Remember Me: The Mahalia Jackson Story will debut at 7 p.m. PT April 19 at the Directors Guild of America (DGA) at 7920 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles.
Another Mahalia Jackson film, Mahalia premiered on Lifetime last year starring Danielle Brooks.