Music News

Danielle Brooks to play gospel legend Mahalia Jackson in new Lifetime biopic 'The Mahalia Jackson Story'

Leon Bennett/Getty Images for ESSENCE


Danielle Brooks is officially stepping out of her orange jumpsuit and into her church dress for her next big role.

In an Instagram post on Monday, the Orange Is the New Black actress confirmed the news that she will play iconic gospel music legend and civil rights activist Mahalia Jackson in the new Lifetime film Roberts Presents: The Mahalia Jackson Story.

“This one’s for the fam,” Brooks wrote, sharing a photo of the announcement.

According to Deadline, the film, to be directed by Tony Award winner Kenny Leon, will be produced by Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts, who has extended her partnership with Lifetime for four new movies.

The biopic is expected to follow Jackson’s life including her journey in becoming one of gospel music’s most respected figures. Known for her song “Move on Up a Little Higher,” which sold millions of copies, Jackson was the first gospel singer to perform at Carnegie Hall. She also sang at John F. Kennedy‘s inaugural ball in 1961 and was an active supporter of the Civil Rights Movement, where she sang at numerous rallies, including the March on Washington in 1963.

The film reunites Brooks with Leon, who directed the actress in Much Ado About Nothing last year at Shakespeare in the Park in New York.

News of The Mahalia Jackson Story comes after the success of Lifetime’s The Clark Sisters: The First Ladies of Gospel, which became Lifetime’s highest-rated original movie since 2016.

By Candice Williams
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