Women of the Movement series – Why the story of Emmett Till’s murder matters now more than ever
One of Rotten Tomatoes’ Most Anticipated TV Shows of 2022, Women of the Movement is now available to binge on Showmax. The historical drama is based on the true story of Mamie Till-Mobley, who in 1955 risked her life to find justice after her 14-year-old son Emmett was brutally murdered in the Jim Crow South. Unwilling to let Emmett’s murder disappear from the headlines, Mamie chose to bear her pain on the world’s stage, emerging as an activist for justice and igniting the American civil rights movement as we know it today.
The six-part miniseries has a 91% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with Los Angeles Times calling it “one of the most powerful — and potentially risky — projects revolving around race ever developed by a broadcast network.”
Women Of The Movement stars Tony Award winner Adrienne Warren as Mamie, while Emmett is played by Cedric Joe (from Space Jam: A New Legacy), who, AV Club says, “is so charming and personable as Emmett, it breaks your heart.”
Adrienne won a 2020 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her portrayal of the iconic Tina Turner in Broadway’s Tina. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, she compares Tina and Mamie, saying, “They are both fighters in their individual ways — because they had to be, not necessarily because they wanted to be, which I think is important, especially when you’re bringing light to stories, specifically, about Black women. Black women are often seen as, ‘Oh, they’re warriors or fighters and they’re so resilient.’ But there are many times where people don’t want to be in those situations, but they have to rise to the occasion because of their circumstances.”
“The image of a grieving Black mother put a powerful face to a type of crime that had gone unremarked upon for decades,” says Variety. “And yet it’s impossible to watch Women of the Movement and not think of the Black mothers who continue to be in this position, over and over again to no avail, to this day and inevitably beyond.”
“Literally, while I was writing the finale, it was the summer of George Floyd, so it’s still happening,” Emmy-nominated creator Marissa Jo Cerar (The Handmaid’s Tale, The Fosters, 13 Reasons Why) told Forbes. “We just told the story, and the audience will come to their own conclusions, but unfortunately, we are still experiencing the same injustice and trauma.”
“Women Of The Movement soberly reminds us that far too many Black mothers today, including Sybrina Fulton, Geneva Reed-Veal, Wanda Cooper-Jones, and Rep. Lucy McBath, must still follow Mamie’s path,” agrees AV Club. “Sometimes justice is achieved but often it’s still denied, and in every instance, a child is lost forever.”
For Marissa, it was important to begin the series with Emmett’s birth rather than his death; she wanted to make Women of the Movement a family drama that just happens to be about a true crime. “We all have a family,” she explained at Deadline’s 2022 Contenders TV event. “Mamie met that little baby just like George Floyd’s mother met him and Trayvon’s mother met him. So we just want you to see yourselves. You see our humanity and we’ll see yours.”
Her approach makes Women of the Movement a powerful reminder that it shouldn’t take the death of a child… and another child, and another, to show us that, as Mamie says in the series, “Whatever happens to any of us had better be the business of all of us.”
Women Of The Movement is directed by four pioneering Black women directors – Black Reel winners Gina Prince-Bythewood (The Old Guard, Love & Basketball) and Tina Mabry (Pose), and Black Reel nominees Kasi Lemmons (Harriet, Eve’s Bayou) and Julie Dash (Daughters of the Dust) – with a star-studded cast that includes Tony winner Tonya Pinkins, Emmy winners Glynn Turman (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Fargo) and Gil Bellows (American Gods, The Shawshank Redemption), Oscar winner Timothy Hutton (The Haunting of Hill House), Critics Choice nominee Joshua Caleb Johnson (The Good Lord Bird), and Zimbabwean actor Tongayi Chirisa (Antebellum, Palm Springs).
Although there’s no word as yet on Season 2, Women of the Movement was developed as an anthology series, and Marissa hinted at Deadline’s 2022 Contenders TV event that the bible for Season 2, focussing on a different mother’s story, is already awaiting network approval.