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Colman Domingo to Play Gay Civil Rights Icon Bayard Rustin in Biopic

Colman Domingo to Play Gay Civil Rights Icon Bayard Rustin in Biopic

Coleman Domingo and Baynard Rustin
Chris Pizzello-Pool/Getty Images; Archive Photos/Getty

It's the first narrative film for Michelle and Barack Obama's production company Higher Ground. 

Fresh off his role in Nia DaCosta's Candyman, Advocate cover star Colman Domingo is stepping into the role of gay civil rights leader Bayard Rustin in the eponymous Rustin. The film is being developed by Higher Ground, the production company created by Michelle and Barack Obama, and will be released by Netflix.

Rustin was a close advisor to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and was hugely influential during the civil rights movement. He was the principal organizer of King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference, as well as the architect of the March on Washington in 1963. Rustin was also a gay man who was forced to take a less public role in the movement because of a 1953 arrest for having sex with a man. He was subsequently required to register as a sex offender, due to the deeply homophobic laws of the time.

In 2020, he was pardoned of that arrest.

The film will focus on "the onslaught of obstacles that Rustin had to overcome to organize the 1963 March on Washington, which was where Dr. King Jr. delivered his historic 'I Have a Dream' speech," per Variety.

Joining Domingo in Rustin is Chris Rock, who's set to play NAACP leader Roy Wilks. Glynn Turman will portray activist and March on Washington co-organizer A. Philip Randolph, while rounding Audra McDonald will round out the cast as civil rights icon Ella Baker.

The film is being directed by George C. Wolfe (Ma Rainey's Black Bottom), who also co-wrote the screenplay alongside Dustin Lance Black (Milk). This is a second collaboration for Wolfe and Domingo, who previously worked together on Ma Rainey.

Rustin is currently without a release date.

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