*Forest Whitaker is a co-producer of “Roxanne Roxanne,” a feature about the Roxanne hip hop wars of the 1980s in New York.
The story centers on Lolita Shante Gooden, a 14-year old rap prodigy from Queens, who rhymed fantastical under the moniker Roxanne Shanté.
The film stars Queens native Eden Duncan-Smith (“Annie,” “Meadowland”), as Shanté, and Nia Long as Roxanne’s mother. The film also features Mahershala Ali, Elvis Nolasco, Jermel Howard, Sean Ringgold, Curtiss Cook, and actors portraying rappers who were in her circle, including Kurtis Blow, Biz Markie, and a young Nas.
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The film will detail the early parts of Roxanne’s hip hop journey from hood hustler to Hip Hop pioneer. By the age of 25, Shanté was largely retired from the music industry. In 2008, her song “Roxanne’s Revenge” was ranked number 42 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Hip Hop Songs, and she re-recorded the track the following year.
Mahershala Ali spoke briefly about the film in an interview with The Daily Beast:
“Usually when you look at hip-hop films and biopics you think, this is a story of this album, or how so and so came up in the business… But [Roxanne, Roxanne] explores why she kind of disappeared and got derailed, to some degree. I believe that’s going to be a film that really grabs people as well, because it’s very nuanced compared to a lot of music biopics.”
“Roxanne, Roxanne” is written and directed by Michael J. Larnell (“Cronies”) and executive produced by Spike Lee. Whitaker’s Significant Productions and Pharrell Williams’ IamOTHER Entertainment will co-produce the biopic. The real Roxanne Shanté is also listed as an executive producer.
The film is currently in post-production, and is slated for a 2017 release.