Fresh off a pair of Oscar nominations for her work on last year’s inspirational drama Harriet, Cynthia Erivo has signed on to star in Universal’s musical drama Talent Show.
Lena Waithe wrote the most recent draft of the script, and her collaborator on The Chi, Gandja Monteiro, will direct the film, which is based on an original idea by Duane Adler. Adler, who created the hit Step Up franchise and also wrote the 2001 teen movie Save the Last Dance, penned an earlier draft of Talent Show, as did The Chi scribe Aimee Lagos.
Erivo is set to play a failed songwriter who returns home to Chicago to lead a group of at-risk youth put on their annual talent show. According to the Hollywood Reporter, there’s no start date in place yet due to the ongoing pandemic, but with a little bit of luck, I’d expect this to start shooting early next year so Universal can release it in time for the holiday season next year. Erivo is a real talent, and this strikes me as a commercial project that could appeal to families in the lead up to Thanksgiving.
George Tillman Jr. and Robert Teitel will produce via their State Street Pictures banner, which also produced the 2018 drama The Hate U Give. Meanwhile, Waithe will executive produce alongside Jay Marcus, who runs development at State Street and will oversee the project on behalf of the company. Rishi Rajani will oversee for Waithe’s Hillman Grad Productions, while Universal’s Erik Baiers and Sara Scott will oversee on behalf of the studio.
Erivo is a singer and songwriter who won a Tony and a Grammy for her work in the Broadway revival of The Color Purple. She is one Oscar shy of an EGOT, having won an Emmy for a musical appearance on the Today show. She may also find herself up for an Emmy thanks to her recent turn in HBO’s The Outsider.
Erivo is just getting started on the big screen, having made her feature debut in 2018’s thriller Bad Times at the El Royale, which she soon followed with a breakout turn in Steve McQueen‘s acclaimed heist movie Widows. Erivo will soon be seen alongside Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley in the long-delayed sci-fi movie Chaos Walking based on the bestselling YA novel by Patrick Ness. She has also wrapped John Ridley‘s time travel movie Needle in a Timestack with Leslie Odom Jr., Freida Pinto and Orlando Bloom.
Erivo next stars as Aretha Franklin in Genius: Aretha, which National Geographic recently pushed to the fall.