In this season of celebrating everything Black, I had the opportunity to be present with the cast of the Mahalia biopic soon to be released on Lifetime. Yes! The highly-anticipated Mahalia biopic is soon to be released on Lifetime April 3rd. The biopic… incredible. There are so many moments in the film where you forget Danielle Brooks is not the real Mahalia. It takes you through the highs and lows in a short period of her life. Jason Dirden, better known as Bassie in Greenleaf, completely steps out of his normal, villainous character to play her loving, supportive partner. It was pleasant to be able to ask him questions about the role and bringing the character Russell Roberts, the dazzling music loving reverend, to life.
Question to Jason Dirden: What is something that people don’t know about Mahalia, that you think is important?
Jason Dirden: Mahalia was shy and insecure in certain parts of her life just like common people. The duality of that, and the depth she had was just amazing. Not a lot of people know that. As powerful and impactful as she was, there were still times of doubt.
According to Lifetime, this “highly-anticipated, gospel biopic Robin Roberts Presents: Mahalia, will premiere Saturday, April 3 at 8:00pm ET/PT.”
An impressive list of Broadway stars including Tony® nominee Joaquina Kalukango (Slave Play), Jason Dirden (Fences), Olivia Washington (The Butler) and Rob Demery (Lovecraft Country) join the film which is directed by Tony® Award-winner Kenny Leon and stars Tony Award nominee, SAG and Grammy® Award winning actress Danielle Brooks (Orange is the New Black) as the gospel legend and civil rights trailblazer.
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.
From Rock’n Robin Productions and Lincoln Square Productions, Mahalia is executive produced by Robin Roberts and Linda Berman. Danielle Brooks and Kenny Leon are co-executive producers. Leon directs from a script written by Bettina Gilois and Todd Kreidler.
Preview of the interview with the cast and the trailer for the upcoming biopic: