The Georgia-born actor and singer will take on the role of the "The Queen of Gospel," who was also an influential civil rights activist.

By Perri Ormont Blumberg
August 05, 2020
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Danielle Brooks
Credit: Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images

Exciting news, gospel fans: Lifetime and Robin Roberts have announced that Danielle Brooks will star in The Mahalia Jackson Story in the lead role as the world-renowned gospel singer, who also fought valiantly for civil rights.

A New Orleans native, Jackson is perhaps best known for her 1948 recording of "Move on Up a Little Higher," a resoundingly popular version of the William Herbert Brewster song, which became an anthem for change as Jackson performed it at landmark events like John F. Kennedy's inaugural ball and at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Brooks, the 30-year-old, Georgia-born actor and singer, stepping into Jackson's shoes will be someone that enthusiasts of Orange is the New Black and Broadway's The Color Purple will likely recognize. Atlanta resident and Tony Award winner, Kenny Leon will direct the film. Per Deadline, the biopic will be made through the extended partnership between Robin Roberts and Lifetime, as one of the four new movies set to be part of their collaboration. "Having had the privilege of working with Kenny on Steel Magnolias and Robin Roberts on Stolen by my Mother, I am ecstatic to have them join forces to work together on this special project,” said Tanya Lopez, EVP of Movies, Limited Series & Original Movie Acquisitions, Lifetime and LMN, in a press release shared in Deadline's announcement of the news. “Adding Danielle Brooks as Mahalia is icing on the cake. This team is committed in celebrating the legacy of Mahalia and reintroducing her to a world that needs her spirit more than ever.”

So far, no tentative schedule for production or anticipated air date has been announced. But you can bet you'll find us spinning plenty of Jackson tunes to get in the spirit.

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