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Octavia Spencer is attached to star in Seacole, a period biopic about a pioneering Jamaican doctor who battled prejudice to play a key role in the Crimean War, rivaling Florence Nightingale.
The project reteams Spencer with Brunson Green, producer of The Help, and will be directed by Charlie Stratton (In Secret). Umedia (The Artist, Grace of Monaco) is co-producing and financing the film, which will be shopped to foreign buyers at the Berlin Film Market by Brian O’Shea‘s The Exchange.
“Mary Seacole was a dynamic, complex and charming woman, and, knowing Octavia and her immense talent, there is no one better to embody this impressive and courageous historical figure,” Green said.
News of Spencer’s involvement in the project comes just days before her new movie, Black or White, opens in select theaters Jan. 30. She stars opposite Kevin Costner in the racial drama.
Seacole was born in 1805 to a free Jamaican woman and a Scottish officer. She followed in her mother’s footsteps and became a nurse versed in traditional Caribbean and African herbal remedies. She also was an avid traveler. When the Crimean War broke out, she applied to be a nurse for the British government, but her request was denied. She paid her own passage to the Crimean Peninsula and set up a hotel for soldiers.
From a script by Dianne Houston and Marnie Dickens, the film will focus on Seacole’s role in the Crimean War, and her desire to work alongside Nightingale — the greatest thing dividing them being the color of their skin.
Later, Seacole wrote one of the earliest autobiographies by a mixed-race woman, Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands (1857), yet her story was largely forgotten until recent years in England, where she’s been recognized for her role in the Crimean War, and for successfully combating racial prejudice throughout her life.
“It is time to bring Mary Seacole’s story to the big screen,” O’Shea said.
Spencer is represented by WME, while Strattan is repped by CAA.
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