'Belle' Filmmaker to Direct David Oyelowo, Rosamund Pike in 'A United Kingdom' (Exclusive)

Amma Asante David Oyelowo Split - H 2015
AP Images/Invision

Amma Asante David Oyelowo Split - H 2015

The drama tells the true story of Botswana's first president, Seretse Khama, whose marriage to a white woman in 1948 sparked international outrage.

Amma Asante has come aboard to direct A United Kingdom, a racial drama that has David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike in negotiations to star.

Pathe International is financing and is one of the production companies behind the project, which is eyeing an October start.

Written by Guy Hibbert, the script tells the true story of Seretse Khama, a member of the royal family in the country of Bechuanaland, a former English colony and south African nation that would one day become Botswana, with Khama serving as the country's first president. But prior to that, Khama sparked international outrage when he married a white woman in 1948. He survived a deposition attempt by his uncle, only to face opposition from South Africa, where interracial marriage was illegal, which forced Great Britain to ban him from his home country in 1951.

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"Amma and Rosamund are two of the most exciting talents working in film today,” said Oyelowo, who is also one of the project’s producers. “I've worked with both of them before and so my excitement about them joining A United Kingdom stems from a knowledge of just how inspiring they are to work with and how much daring and beauty they will bring to this epic love story."

Oyelowo is producing with Rick McCallum (who produced the Star Wars prequels), Pathe's Cameron McCracken, Brunson Green, Justin Moore-Lewy and Charlie Mason.

Oyelowo, who stars in HBO's unique single-person drama Nightingale, which debuts May 29, and is wrapping up Queen of Katwe with Lupita Nyong'o for Disney, will shoot crime drama Three Seconds opposite Luke Evans before moving on to A United Kingdom.

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Asante already proved herself deft at handling race relations with Belle, an acclaimed drama that starred Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Matthew Goode. The 2013 period drama told of an illegitimate mixed-race daughter of an admiral in 18th century England.

Asante is repped by CAA, Mosaic and United Agents in the U.K.