Zendaya To Produce & Star ‘A White Lie ’As Anita Hemmings, First Black Woman Vassar Grad While Passing As White

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Zendaya To Produce & Star In ‘A White Lie’ As Anita Hemmings, First Black Woman Vassar Grad While Passing As White
Posted by Wilson Morales

November 14, 2017

Source: Deadline

Deadline is reporting that Zendaya is looking to star in and produce a psychological thriller called A White Lie, an adaptation of the Karin Tanabe novel The Gilded Years. The site states that this is the “hot pitch package on the street.”

The film is “built around the true story of Anita Hemmings, a light-skinned African American woman. who passed as white so she could attend Vassar at the turn of the century.” Zendaya will play Hemmings.

Here’s the official publisher page on the book:

Since childhood, Anita Hemmings has longed to attend the country’s most exclusive school for women, Vassar College. Now, a bright, beautiful senior in the class of 1897, she is hiding a secret that would have banned her from admission: Anita is the only African-American student ever to attend Vassar. With her olive complexion and dark hair, this daughter of a janitor and descendant of slaves has successfully passed as white, but now finds herself rooming with Louise “Lottie” Taylor, the scion of one of New York’s most prominent families.

Though Anita has kept herself at a distance from her classmates, Lottie’s sphere of influence is inescapable, her energy irresistible, and the two become fast friends. Pulled into her elite world, Anita learns what it’s like to be treated as a wealthy, educated white woman—the person everyone believes her to be—and even finds herself in a heady romance with a moneyed Harvard student. It’s only when Lottie becomes infatuated with Anita’s brother, Frederick, whose skin is almost as light as his sister’s, that the situation becomes particularly perilous. And as Anita’s college graduation looms, those closest to her will be the ones to dangerously threaten her secret.

Monica Beletsky is writing the script, and Hello Sunshine’s Reese Witherspoon and Lauren Neustadter are producing along with Zendaya. Beletsky’s mother is Jewish and her father is African American. In 2017, Ms. Beletsky was nominated for an Emmy Award for Best Limited Series along with her Fargo colleagues. Past writing and producing credits include the drama series The Leftovers, (winner of the Peabody Award in 2016), Friday Night Lights, and the first four seasons of Parenthood.

Zendaya, who starred in Spider-Man: Homecoming, will be seen next in The Greatest Showman with Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams, and Zac Efron.


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