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Gabrielle Union shines light on books by black women with screen projects

Gabrielle Union shines light on books by black women with screen projects

Currently a judge on America’s Got Talent and a creator behind a fashion line at New York and Company, actress and author Gabrielle Union has an astounding number of book projects in the works. Her future screen adaptations over the past year have been separated by articles, but when seeing all the upcoming projects come together, she’s clearly becoming a leader in bringing books to another medium.

The New York Times best-selling memoirist, with 2017’s We’re Going to Need More Wine (a must-read, especially with her voicing it on the audio book), is creating these projects via her production company I’ll Have Another (a play on her memoir’s title), which is wrapping up the first season of Spectrum’s L.A.’s Finest co-starring Jessica Alba.

Unlike Reese Witherspoon who buys rights before a book comes out on shelves, Gabrielle instead is taking novels by black women that reached a belated award-winning, best-selling status. For example, Tallulah the Tooth Fairy CEO was originally self-published three years ago, but its sales catapulted it to a top publisher and is being re-released this month while The Perfect Find was published under a black woman-owned company. Even Coffee Will Make You Black was a top book for black women readers two decades ago, but may enjoy a resurgence for a new generation when it comes to screen.

Below are snippets about the projects in development.

Tallulah The Tooth Fairy CEO

In March, I’ll Have Another and 5 More Minutes Productions announced they had acquired the rights to Tallulah the Tooth Fairy CEO, a children’s book written by Dr. Tamara Pizzoli and illustrated by Federico Fabiani.

The book was published under Tamara’s Texas-based, Italy-managed publishing house The English Schoolhouse in 2016 and now with Macmillan’s Farrar, Straus and Giroux Books for Young Readers. The story stars Tallulah, the tooth fairy mother behind Teeth Titans Inc. and National Association for the Appreciation and Care of Primary Teeth, the NAACP-T.

Yamara Taylor, a writer and producer who’s worked on Black-ish and Boondocks, is attached to the project to turn the book into a live-action modern family comedy, according to Deadline.

“Yamara was the perfect choice for us when choosing a writer to bring Tallulah and her story to life,” Gabrielle said with 5 More Minutes’ John Sacchi, who are producing, in a press release. “She is a working mom herself who strives to tell authentic stories that her daughter can relate to. Her interpretation of Tallulah and the world she lives and works in was so grounded and real yet had all of the fun and fantastical elements you need when telling a story about a fictional character, in this case the Tooth Fairy.”

Coffee Will Make You Black

February marked the announcement of Gabrielle’s production company is partnering with Oscar-winning actress and producer Octavia Spencer’s Orit Entertainment to bring Coffee Will Make You Black to the screen with director Deborah Riley Draper and producers Tate Taylor and John Norris. Both actresses will star in the film as well, according to the film’s Facebook page.

The 1994 debut novel of April Sinclair was named Book of the Year in Young Adult Fiction by the American Library Association and received the Carl Sandburg Award from the Friends of the Chicago Public Library. The story follows a teenage Jean “Stevie” Stevenson as she navigates race and sexuality in the 1960s.

On the Facebook page, the team wrote: “This coming-of-age story of an African-American girl confronting race, class, colorism, sexuality and gender roles will be authentic, tender, funny and complicated. Special shout out to novelist April Sinclair who penned this seminal 25 years ago this month. We are proud to announce this important production in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the publication of the book and Black History Month!”

Book rating: Reading this as a teen, I remember how impactful this book was in the 1990s. With LGBT Pride Month recently celebrated, I’m wondering how this missed those book lists as Stevie is trying to discover herself in a time when a young woman, especially a black one, is discouraged to do that.

The Idea of You

On Dec. 19, news broke that the 2017 novel, The Idea of You, by actress Robinne Lee had been optioned by I’ll Have Another and CEO Welle Entertainment Cathy Schulman to be developed into a feature film. Robinne, Eric Hayes, and Jeff Morrone will join the production team.

According to the fan website, the director and stars have not been announced yet.

Book rating: A teen’s mom falls for the younger boy band heartthrob. At first, it sounds like an unbelievable scenario, but Robinne really emphasizes how this is turning the protagonist’s life upside down. And the traveling takes the reader all over the world as the romance hits a fever pitch. Full review here.

The Perfect Find

Top black chick lit author Tia Williams will see her latest novel become a film with Gabrielle in the starring role as a 40-year-old magazine editor who falls for a 20-something aspiring videographer. The Perfect Find was published by Brown Girls Books in 2016.

Book rating: Preordered this book because I loved Tia’s first novel, The Accidental Diva. Tia is probably the foremost author on sophisticated black chick lit, especially with The Perfect Find, which brings the reader into the world of fashion and beauty journalism through a black woman editor battling her nemesis in the workplace and falling in love with someone she feels is too young. Brilliantly written and descriptive.

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