Spotlight on history

Janet Jackson to produce Lifetime movie on 1920s gangster “Queenie”

(Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images)

Janet Jackson is set to produce a Lifetime movie about Queenie, the only female gangster in Prohibition Era New York City, which will be set against the backdrop of the legendary Cotton Club. Kenny Leon, known for A Raisin In The Sun, will be directing the movie. The mobster, whose real name was Stephanie St. Clair, did not only run several criminal businesses out of Harlem in the 1920s, but was also a strong advocate for the black community, calling out police brutality and discrimination in columns she wrote for the local newspaper getting involved in “policy banking” (an illegal way of investment banking, at a time when many banks would not accept black customers). She spent ten years in prison after being accused of shooting her husband (although accounts vary on whether she actually did). She died peacefully (and rich) at the age of 82, in 1960.

Stephanie St. Clair

Stephanie St. Clair

Another movie in production for the TV network is Sister Dance, executive produced by Serena Williams which is based on the annual dance-off competition she hosts with her sister Venus. It will tell the (fictional) story of two sisters who become rivals as their dance teams face each other in a dance battle. “It still sucks to be a woman in America because women feel dismissed in both big and small ways throughout their day every day,” Liz Gateley, executive vice president and head of programming for Lifetime said about their strong, women-centric programming for the 2016-17 season. “We know our viewers come to Lifetime because we empower them. No studio or network is giving women creators a bigger platform to freely express themselves and see their stories get made.”

Read the full story at i-d.

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