Sterling K. Brown to Star in True-Life Sports Drama 'Rise'

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Sterling K. Brown

Kevin Rodney Sullivan will direct the pic, which has been dated for an Easter 2020 release.

Sterling K. Brown will star in the inspirational sports drama Rise.

The Emmy winner will play Willie Davis, a janitor at a Louisiana middle school who took over the boys' basketball program — which was in danger of being canceled due to lack of funds — and led the team to the state championship. Davis' real-life story has been covered in HBO's Real Sports feature segments.

AFFIRM Films, Sony's faith-based label that was behind the titles Miracles From Heaven and Heaven Is for Real, will produce in partnership with Crystal City Entertainment and Gulfstream Pictures. 

Rise, which is set to begin filming in May in Louisiana, has been set for an April 10, 2020, release.

Kevin Rodney Sullivan (Guess Who) will direct the project for AFFIRM from a script by Randy Brown (Trouble With the Curve) and Gregory Allen Howard (Remember the Titans). Ari Pinchot, Stuart Avi Savitsky, Mike Karz and Bill Bindley will produce.

"Sports films typically teach us something more than just ‘sports.' They leave us with a better understanding and knowledge of ourselves and what it takes to live our best life and lift up those around us, no matter the circumstances," said Rich Peluso, head of AFFIRM.

“We have always been fascinated by stories that illustrate how one person can change the trajectory of a life or a community, and Willie had that impact on the people he coached," said Crystal City's Pinchot, with Gulfstream's Karz and Bindley adding, “Willie’s story inspired and moved us the very first time we heard it. We are thrilled to be working with AFFIRM Films and Crystal City Entertainment. We all believe Kevin Rodney Sullivan is the perfect director to be bringing this story to life for a wide audience.” 

"Willie Davis is a true American hero. I’m honored to tell his story on film, and there’s nothing better than having Sterling K. Brown play the role,” said Sullivan, who is a veteran television director, having recently helmed episodes of You, All American and the DC series Titans.

Brown, repped by Innovative, JWS Entertainment and Bloom Hergott, was most recently seen in the third season of NBC's This Is Us, which just aired its season finale. His recent films credits include The Predator and Black Panther. Brown is set for Paramount's The Rhythm Section and will voice-star in Sony's Angry Birds II and Disney's Frozen II.