36-year-old actress Tika Sumpter was excited at the possibility of playing Michelle Obama in a film about how the future Mr. and Mrs. President met and fell in love on the Southside of Chicago. So excited, in fact, that when the film ran into financial difficulties she jumped in to save the project — becoming, for the first time, a producer. Southside With You, a love story starring Parker Sawyers as Barack Obama — then an up-and-coming Harvard-educated summer associate — and a young Michelle Robinson played by Sumpter, is set to open in theaters on August 26.
“I don’t think she necessarily expected to be the lead producer alongside me,” said Richard Tanne, the original writer of the screenplay who also directed the film. “But I was a first-time filmmaker, and people wanted to maybe impose their own vision on the film. She kind of naturally sprung into action to safeguard what the movie needed to be.”
The film centers around the Obama’s storied first date — a day that included discussions of racial politics, heated argument over the relative merits of Good Times versus The Brady Bunch, analysis of Eric Barnes’ painting “Sugar Shack” at the art museum, and the couple’s first kiss over a cone of Baskin-Robbins. “I loved that it was an origin story about the two most famous people in the world right now, and about how they fell in love,” said Sumpter. “You don’t see a lot of black leads in love stories, and you definitely don’t see a lot of walk and talks with black people.”
Southside With You premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, where the film, and Sumpter’s performance, received rave reviews.
Watch the trailer for the film below:
Read the full story at The New York Times.