Regina King says her biopic about Shirley Chisholm’s 1972 campaign is also a story about 2024


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By Ronda Racha Penrice, NBC

Regina King as Shirley Chisholm
Regina King as Shirley Chisholm in “Shirley” on Netflix. (Glen Wilson / Netflix)

Shirley Chisholm was the definition of a trailblazer. In 1968, she became the first Black woman elected to Congress. She co-founded the Congressional Black Caucus. And in one of her most audacious moves, in 1972 Chisholm became the first woman to seek the Democratic nomination for president. Still, Regina King and her sister, Reina King, say the storied lawmaker is not as well known as she should be. That was the driving reason behind their new Netflix film “Shirley.”

Not only does Regina King play Chisholm, focusing on her bold run for president, she and Reina produced it through their own company, Royal Ties Productions. It’s a passion project that’s taken them 15 years to realize.

“Our understanding and awareness of Shirley Chisholm was mostly through our mother,” King told NBC News. “And then as we became young adults, we realized that so many people, not white people, but Black people would have no idea who we’re talking about when we mentioned her name.”

The King sisters enlisted Oscar winner John Ridley, who wrote and directed the film. Reina King said her sister first planted the seeds for this project when she and Ridley were working on the ABC series “American Crime,” which earned her two of her four Emmys. By 2019, they were off and running.

Learn about Ridley’s approach to the film.

Many Civil Rights leaders championed the struggle for justice.

Follow more trailblazers in our breaking news archive.

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