Which black actors might best portray Ida Mae Gladney, George Starling and Dr. Robert Pershing Foster, the three real-life protagonists of Isabel Wilkerson’s groundbreaking history of the Great Migration, “The Warmth of Other Sons”?
A-list producer Shonda Rhimes likely has her pick of talent in the small screen adaptation of Wilkerson’s meticulous nonfiction classic, which won a National Book Award and an Anisfield-Wolf prize in 2011.
Shondaland Productions will bring “Warmth” to FX this fall, her company’s first foray into cable programming. Writer/director Dee Rees of 2011’s indie hit Pariah will write the script.
Wilkerson, a Pulitzer-Prize winning reporter, spent 15 years researching the exodus of more than six million African Americans out of the South between 1910 and 1970. If the series sticks close to its source material, viewers will come to know Gladney, who left Mississippi in 1937 for Chicago; Starling, who fled Florida in 1945 for Harlem; and Foster, who left Louisiana for Los Angeles in 1953.
Wilkerson joins a long line of Anisfield-Wolf winners to have their works transitioned to screen; HBO has optioned both Marlon James’ 2014 novel A Brief History of Seven Killings and Ari Shavit’s 2013 My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel. Better clear out room on the DVR.