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In the one-woman show Sell/Buy/Date, Tony Award-winning creator and performer Sarah Jones inhabited more than a dozen multicultural characters as a way to explore people’s relationships to and with the sex industry.
The production debuted off-Broadway in 2016 and received rave reviews. The New York Times dubbed it “absorbing” and The Hollywood Reporter called Sarah Jones a “chameleonic performer” who dazzles. Sarah Jones took her show on the road, posting up in Los Angeles in 2018 for separate runs at both the Geffen Playhouse and the Los Angeles LGBT Center.
Now comes word that she’s found a new venue for her work with Sell/Buy/Date: a feature documentary that will be executive produced by Meryl Streep, Rashida Jones and Laverne Cox. Sarah Jones will make her feature directorial debut on the project that, per an announcement released today, will explore “one of the most critical issues at the intersection of race, feminism, power and economics in our current cultural climate: the sex industry.”
News of the project comes during the era of the COVID-19 pandemic during which issues of inequality have fallen more sharply into focus, particularly in criminal justice, sexism, poverty and who is considered an essential worker. Per today’s release, Sell/Buy/Date will tackle all of those themes while asking the question “is sex work exploitative or empowering?” In doing so, Sarah Jones will revisit the current and former sex workers/prostituted women and some men who buy and sell their services who helped inform and inspire her stage production. Interviews will also include other experts as well as celebrities.
“Long before I started performing my characters, at the start of my career I found myself on Rikers Island teaching poetry to incarcerated teenage girls — not exactly light-hearted fodder for the kind of humor I’m known for. As young as 14 years old, many of these girls had been arrested on charges of prostitution. I remember thinking, ‘how can children not old enough to drive or vote be locked up for this ‘crime?’,” said Sarah Jones in a statement.
Jones will produce alongside Julie Parker Benello and David Goldblum. Joining Streep, Rashida Jones and Cox as executive producers are Nion McEvoy, Leslie Berriman, Robina Riccitiello, Gigi Pritzker and Abby Pucker. Agnes Gund, Shizuka Asakawa and Natasha and Dave Dolby will serve as co-executive producers while S. Mona Sinha and Lisa Chanoff are listed as contributing producers. The Sell/Buy/Date doc has received support from the Ford Foundation, SFFILM Invest and the Harnisch Foundation.
Shooting is expected to start in March 2021 with locations set to include Los Angeles, New York and Las Vegas. Sarah Jones recently launched the social justice-focused entertainment company Foment Prods. and Sell/Buy/Date marks its first production. Sarah Jones made a name for herself with the Tony Award-winning Bridge & Tunnel, which was produced by Streep.
Streep is coming off a busy 2020 during which she starred in Steven Soderbergh’s Let Them All Talk and Ryan Murphy’s The Prom. Rashida Jones most recently starred opposite Bill Murray in Apple’s On the Rocks. Cox cut her teeth in the documentary space on last year’s Disclosure for Netflix which also received rave reviews for its exploration of transgender representation onscreen.
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