The long awaited Robin Roberts Presents: Mahalia is the gospel biopic that we didn’t even know we needed. On Saturday, April 3, 2021 at 8/7C Lifetime will present the biographical movie of the famed gospel legend, Mahalia Jackson. For those who aren’t aware of Mahalia’s trailblazing history here is the movie synopsis presented by Lifetime:
Born in New Orleans, Mahalia Jackson began singing at an early age and went on to become one of the most revered gospel figures in U.S. history, melding her music with the civil rights movement. Her recording of the song “Move on Up a Little Higher” sold millions of copies, skyrocketing her to international fame and gave her the opportunity to perform at diverse settings including in front of a racially integrated audience at the prestigious Carnegie Hall and at John F. Kennedy’s inaugural ball. An active supporter of the Civil Rights Movement, Jackson sang at numerous rallies, including the March on Washington in 1963 alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in hopes that her music would encourage and inspire racial equality.
I was awarded access to this film and I must say that it is a must see! This film truly depicts the foot-stomping, soul-stirring and remarkable life of Mahalia Jackson in the most captivating manner. Even if you weren’t privileged to know of her life beforehand, this movie biopic is a great, star-studded introduction to her groundbreaking life. It was amazing to learn of the civil rights bond and friendship that Mahalia Jackson shared with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. She was also famously known to say to Martin, “tell them about the dream, Martin” before he gave his historical I Have a Dream speech at the March on Washington.
Aside from showcasing Mahalia’s amazing journey and career, this movie is highlighted by its all-star cast. The Tony Award Nominee, SAG and Grammy Award Winning Actress, Danielle Brooks is playing the lead role of Mahalia Jackson. Danielle transformed into her entirety to accurately depict the gospel legend and civil rights activist in a positive light. Danielle Brooks even sings the songs depicted in the movie that include: Come On Children Let’s Sing, Didn’t It Rain, His Eyes On The Sparrow, How I Got Over and so much more.
The all-star casting continues with: Joaquina Kalukango as “Mildred;” Olivia Washington as “Estelle;” Jason Dirden as “Russell Roberts;” and Rob Demery as civil rights leader. It’s also interestingly known that Danielle Brooks and Joaquina Kalukango met prior to filming and were even roommates while studying at Julliard. The two songbirds, along with Jennifer Hudson, also starred in the revival of The Color Purple on Broadway in 2015. Danielle said recently that “when I was on that show I had the privilege of working with Jennifer Hudson, and I remember her coming to my dressing room, which she did every day before she got on stage, and we would chat and she would say, “You should play Mahalia Jackson.” And I said, “Okay.” And I didn’t think too hard about it. But then when Jennifer Holliday came and stepped into her same shoe, she said the same thing. And I was like, what? Maybe this is a sign. Maybe God is telling me maybe I should really think about this character or this person, to play this person, Mahalia Jackson, who I had known previously.”
So it’s safe to say that you don’t want to miss this premiere in April. Although this gospel biopic will be available on Lifetime, you can also stream it using Philo. Philo is a new and amazing subscription service that provides a live and on demand television experience for its viewers. Whichever you decide, tune in on April 3, 2021 to discover the extraordinary talents of the gospel great, Mahalia Jackson, as seen through the present day talent of an award winning cast.