Infamously Oscar-snubbed MLK biopic/civil rights film, Selma saw heavy involvement from big names in the entertainment industry on the production end, names including Brad Pitt, Oprah Winfrey, and up-and-coming director Ava DuVernay who, according to art and culture platform Saint Heron, is now developing a currently untitled Hurricane Katrina film that she is set to produce alongside David Oyelowo, the actor who played Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma and who will also star in the Hurricane Katrina film.
Martin Luther King, Jr. is portrayed in this film in a manner typical of what viewers may expect, speaking in the distinguished MLK voice that just about any American will recognize. English actress, Carmen Ejogo portrays Coretta Scott King as not only a beautiful wife, but also an important part of the movement and a woman with emotions and concerns outside of being the woman behind the man, even in a time when that was seen as the ultimate purpose for every married women.
Early in the film, Selma works to humanize the civil rights leader, while also making sure to remind us of his greatness that extended far beyond that of the average man, by opening with a scene where he prepares to win the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo which has since been awarded to brave figures like Malala. MLD was brave in a way we seem to have forgotten there is still room to be in this day and age. As he adjusts his cravat and practices the speech he’ll give, he expresses concerns over appearances that stretch far beyond that single night, affecting everyday life decisions that we later hear have an impact on the King family as a whole.
“…what the illusion of supremacy has destroyed, the truth of equality can nourish.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
Selma is filled with Southern accents and famous faces. In addition to her work behind he camera, Oprah portrays activist Annie Lee Cooper. Conscious rapper and AMC’s Hell on Wheels actor Common also appears in a supporting role in the film, along with Reno 911 and more recently The Mindy Project actress Niecy Nash. As you watch the movie, you’re sure to see many other names and faces you’ll recognize from TV or film.
Viewers aware of the ousting of Oliver Stone from the MLK biopic that was set to star Jamie Foxx as the civil rights leader may have wondered if any of his political and social interest outside of civil rights were represented, interests King didn’t live long enough to pursue and interests that Stone described as “radical”, SPOILER ALERT: they aren’t. Viewers may also wonder if issues of infidelity are addressed in Selma as they would have been addressed in the scrapped Stone film. In the film, King’s infidelities are addressed in the context of a J. Edgar Hoover led FBI sending audio of the indiscretions to Mrs. King, who is shown confronting her husband with the tape. The FBI does this in an effort to weaken the movement by weakening the family, not because Hoover or Roosevelt were particularly interested in King’s marriage or affairs, but because changing the status quo by allowing the heavily marginalized black citizens to vote was far from a priority at a time when some places in the United States had yet to become desegregated.
Ultimately, media attention and the unification of many people of different races and backgrounds was pivotal in accomplishing Dr. King’s goals. Unification of people of all races is still just as essential as ever. Donating to organizations like the NAACP, which counts climate change, media diversity, health and education as top priorities is just one way to be a part of the solution.