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Jussie Smollett is preparing his feature directorial debut with B-Boy Blues, an adaptation of James Earl Hardy’s classic 1994 novel.
The film will go into production on Oct. 17 in New York City. The musician and former Empire actor has previously directed two episodes of the Fox series and several music videos.
Smollett’s recently-formed SuperMassive Movies, an ancillary label of his Story Worthy Pictures banner, will produce. Per the company, SuperMassive has raised “mid-seven figures” in a partnership with Cleveland-based investor Tom Wilson to finance small-budget films from minority filmmakers.
Smollett will produce the film alongside author Hardy, investor Wilson, Frank Gatson, Sampson McCormick and Madia Hill Scott.
Former music journalist Hardy’s 1994 book B-Boy Blues centers on a complicated romantic relationship between two Black men: one, a journalist, and the other, a bike messenger. The novel kicked off a series of five more books — including 2nd Time Around, If Only For One Nite, The Day Eazy-E Died, Love The One You’re With and A House is Not a Home — and one short story (“Is It Still Jood To Ya?”). B-Boy Blues was a finalist for a 1995 Lambda Literary Award for Best LGBT/Small Press Title and has been previously adapted (by Hardy) for the stage.
Smollett continues to face legal charges from an alleged attack he reported in Chicago in early 2019. At the time, the actor said two masked men had beaten him and put a noose around his neck while telling him, “This is MAGA country.” While Cook County prosecutors initially dropped charges that Smollett had lied to the police about the attack, which they said he staged himself, in March 2019, a special prosecutor brought six new charges in February. In a September court hearing, Smollett and his legal team argued the charges should be dropped, an ask that was denied by a judge. Smollett has pleaded not guilty to restored charges.
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