Streaming giant Netflix added two projects featuring Black women to its roster of forthcoming projects last Friday (June 2): documentary “The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson and “Underground” creator Misha Green’s new thriller, “Mother.”
The Wrap reported Friday on the acquisition of the Marsha P. Johnson documentary. Director David France’s (“How to Survive a Plague”) film, which premiered in April at New York City’s Tribeca Film Festival frames Johnson’s decades of activism for LGBTQ people of color in the context of contemporary trans advocacy struggles. According to LGBTQ community history website OutHistory.org, Johnson’s success as a performer made her one of the most recognizable trans women of color in 1960s New York City’s queer community. She led other people across the LGBTQ spectrum in resisting New York Police Department (NYPD) officers who were raiding the Stonewall Inn in 1969, which scholars cite as one of the turning points of the emerging queer liberation movement. She and fellow activist Sylvia Rivera founded Street Transvestite (later changed to “Transgender”) Action Revolutionaries, an early trans rights advocacy organization, to house and assist homeless trans people. Johnson later worked with AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power to fight the HIV/AIDS crisis in the late ’80s and early ’90s.
“The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson” explores her work and also investigates the disputed circumstances surrounding her 1992 death, which the NYPD ruled a suicide despite activists’ suspicion of murder. Per The Wrap, the film will premiere on a to-be-announced date later this year.
As reported by Deadline, Netflix also acquired “Mother” on Friday. The publication notes that Green’s original script depicts “a female protagonist in a scenario reminiscent of ’The Professional‘ and ’La Femme Nikita,’” both of which follow young women trained as deadly assassins. Green will produce the film alongside Roy Lee (“The Lego Movie”), and Deadline says Netflix may expand the film into a franchise. “Mother” currently does not have any attached stars. The acquisition came within days of WGN America canceling Green’s “Underground.” HBO recently hired Green to adapt Matt Ruff’s “Lovecraft Country“ into a narrative miniseries.
Netflix purchased the rights to both projects after canceling “The Get Down” and “Sense8,” both of which Variety reports highlighted characters from underrepresented communities to significant critical and popular acclaim.