Roxanne’s Revenge: Roxanne Shanté’s Biopic Causes A Bidding War
More than one week ago (January 22), the biopic of MC Roxanne Shanté, Roxanne Roxanne, screened at the Sundance Film Festival. Produced by Shanté, Pharrell Williams, and Forest Whitaker, the film starring Mahershala Ali and Nia Long traces the story of the prodigious Juice Crew member born Lolita Gooden, and her rise at the height of Battle Rap.
Following its industry premiere, Roxanne Roxanne (named after the U.T.F.O. hit she famously responded to, jump-starting her career) was met with massive interest. According to Deadline, Amazon Studios, Miramax, and Lionsgate were among bidders in the latest Rap biopic. In the end, Neon appears to be the new North American rights partner in the film, for a cost Deadline estimates at close to $3 million. Neon, a newly-launched distributor, purchased another film starring a female protagonist at Sundance, Ingrid Goes West.
In addition to touching on Shanté’s mid-1980s battle with U.T.F.O., and in turn, The Real Roxanne, the film explores the real life challenges in Gooden’s personal life, including domestic abuse and some music industry perils. While Roxanne’s 12″ material proceeded band-mates Big Daddy Kane, Kool G Rap, and others, she would be one of the last MCs in Marley Marl’s Juice Crew to secure a debut album. That LP, Bad Sister, came in 1989.
In 2015, Straight Outta Compton was an Oscar-nominated success in telling the story of N.W.A. Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, and Eazy-E’s widow Tomica Woods-Wright were among film producers. Last year, Lifetime/Sony aired Surviving Compton, the authorized film biography of Michel’le, who was a spouse of both Dr. Dre and Suge Knight during the last 25 years. That film also chronicled the alleged domestic abuse behind closed doors. Tupac Shakur’s official bio’ film, All Eyez On Me, will reach theaters this June.
Roxanne Roxanne is backed by the same production studio as the film Dope. The title character will be played by Chante Adams.
#BonusBeat: Ambrosia For Heads‘ original video: Finding The Goat: Why Are Women Excluded From Talks About Hip-Hop’s Greatest MCs:
This video explores the impact and challenges that Roxanne Shanté faced as a female rapper in the 1980s.