Zendaya to Play Ronnie Spector in A24 Film
Recent Emmy-winner Zendaya (the youngest actress to ever win Lead Actress in a Drama Series, and only the second Black woman to win the category, no less) will play singer Ronnie Spector in a film about her life for A24. Deadline broke the story that the rising star will play Spector after a deal was closed to the singer’s life rights and for her memoir (co-written with Vince Waldron) “Be My Baby.” Deadline hears that Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Jackie Sibblies Drury will pen the script. Marc Platt, Adam Siegel, Mark Itkin, Tom Shelly, and Zendaya will produce, with Jonathan Greenfield and Ronnie Spector herself serving as executive producers.
Zendaya was chosen by Spector, much as Jennifer Hudson was chosen by Aretha Franklin to play her in MGM’s Respect. Spector grew up in Spanish Harlem and launched the girl group the Ronettes with her older sister Estelle Bennett and their cousin Nedra Talley. They were eventually signed by the legendary, and legendarily unhinged, Phil Spector, where they had their big breakthrough hit “Be My Baby” in 1963. She became Ronnie Spector when she married Phil, but their union was a mistake. As Deadline notes, she knew things were bad when she woke up to the sound of bars being installed in their mansion.
Ronnie Spector ended up fighting for the rights to her music in her divorce from Phil Spector (their case was eventually reversed by New York State’s highest court in 2002, substantially reducing the amount the Ronnettes could gain from royalties, and stripping their rights to share the money earned by Phil Spector through the use of their songs in movies, television, and advertising.) Yet Ronnie Spector was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and found success after singing a duet with Eddie Money on “Take Me Home Tonight” in 1986.
The film is a collaboration between A24 and New Regency, which last teamed up together to produce Robert Eggers deliciously bonkers The Lighthouse, and are currently partners on Malcolm & Marie, a film starring Zendaya and John David Washington. Zendaya had prompted Malcolm & Marie by asking her Euphoria EP Sam Levinson to write a film that could be made during the pandemic. The result, a black-and-white film that Levinson directed, was eventually sold to Netflix during an auction at the Toronto Film Festival Market for a whopping $30 million.
Zendaya’s becoming one of her generation’s biggest stars, her talent indisputable. Not only did she make history with her Emmy win for her role as Rue Bennett in HBO’s Euphoria, but she’s also starring in Denis Villeneuve’s big-budget remake Dune for Warner Bros., one of the most hotly anticipated films of the year (if it does bow this year, that is). She’s also been integral to the success of Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Far From Home as MJ.
Featured image: SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 12: Zendaya attends the 25th Annual Critics’ Choice Awards at Barker Hangar on January 12, 2020 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Critics Choice Association)