'The Woman King', Starring Viola Davis, Will Be Directed by 'The Old Guard' Filmmaker Gina Prince-Bythewood

The Old Guard director Gina Prince-Bythewood has an exciting project on the horizon. Prince-Bythewood will direct Viola Davis in The Woman King, about a female general leading an all-female military unit in Africa in the 18th and 19th centuries. The film is inspired by true events, and at one point, Lupita Nyong’o was attached to the project playing the daughter of Davis’ character, but that no longer appears to be the case.

Variety reports that Gina Prince-Bythewood will direct The Woman King starring Viola Davis. They do not list a writer on the project, but Prince-Bythewood has penned several screenplays so perhaps she’ll be tasked with writing duties here as well. Here’s a synopsis:

The film is a historical epic inspired by true events that took place in The Kingdom of Dahomey, one of the most powerful states of Africa in the 18th and 19th centuries. The story follows Nanisca (Davis), general of the all-female military unit, and her daughter Nawi, who together fought the French and neighboring tribes who violated their honor, enslaved their people and threatened to destroy everything they’ve lived for.

Lupita Nyong’o was originally set to play the daughter character, Nawi, but it looks like Nyong’0 has moved on, which is a pity because a movie with this premise starring Viola Davis and Lupita Nyong’o would’ve been fantastic (not to say it won’t still be good without her). Davis is one of the best actors working right now, and I’m excited to see her lead a pic like this.

The real all-female military unit was known as The Mino. Per Wikipedia, “The Mino, which means ‘our mothers’, or so-called Dahomey Amazons by European writers, were a Fon all-female military regiment of the Kingdom of Dahomey in the present-day Republic of Benin which lasted until the end of the 19th century. They were so named by Western observers and historians due to their similarity to the mythical Amazons of ancient Anatolia and the Black Sea.”

The Woman King will be produced by Cathy Schulman’s Welle Entertainment, Viola Davis, and Julius Tennon of JuVee Productions and Maria Bello of Jack Blue Productions. In a statement, Davis and Tennon said:

“We at JuVee are beyond excited to introduce this incredible story of the Women Warriors of The Dahomey Ahosi tribe to the world. It’s time that they truly occupy their place in history and in Gina Prince-Bythewood’s hands, it will be a gamechanger. This project could not be a more perfect example of our legacy.”

I seem to be one of the only people in the world who didn’t care for The Old Guard, but my dislike of the movie was based on story, not direction, so I’m looking forward to seeing Prince-Bythewood work with stronger material.

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