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Zulay Henao, who co-starred in Tyler Perry‘s The Single Moms Club, has signed on to portray Vanessa del Rio in an untitled biopic centering on the adult film legend.
The indie will mark the feature directorial debut of Thomas Mignone, a music video director for such bands as Mudvayne and Slipknot. Mignone also wrote the script.
Datari Turner (Kilimanjaro) and Arthur Sarkissian, best known for the Rush Hour movies, are producing the drama, which is eyeing a production start in October and will shoot in Los Angeles and New York.
With the cheap, crime-riddled Times Square of 1970s New York as its backdrop, the script details how Ana Maria Sanchez, born form Cuban and Puerto Rican parents and raised in Harlem, went from a waitressing job to prostitution to adult films while in her early 20s.
Taking on the name Vanessa del Rio, she earned the moniker Latin from Manhattan, became the first adult film star of Latin decent and enjoyed fame on the level of John Holmes and Linda Lovelace. She even got the Taschen book treatment when the publisher released Vanessa del Rio: Fifty Years of Slightly Slutty Behavior in 2007.
The casting is a coup for Colombian-born Henao, whose credits range from Takers, the thriller that starred Matt Dillon and Paul Walker, to Hostel: Part III. She is now shooting If Loving You Is Wrong, Perry’s TV series based on Single Moms Club, which also starred Nia Long and Amy Smart.
Henao is repped by CAA and Intellectual Artists Management. Turner is repped by Hirsch Wallerstein.
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