Movies

Mary Seacole goes to the movies

By Aaliyah Cunningham
Observer writer
aaliyahc@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, June 27, 2019

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A FILM based on the life of pioneer Jamaican nurse Mary Seacole is in the works, according to Variety Magazine.

Seacole, which is being produced by new American production company Racing Green Pictures, stars English actors Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Sam Worthington. It has a release date of 2020.

Mbatha-Raw has appeared in films such as Beyond The Lights, A Wrinkle in Time, and Concussion starring Will Smith, while Worthington starred in Avatar and Clash of The Titans.

The film will shoot over the next two months in Malta, Romania, and London.

“Mary Seacole was an extraordinary woman, and I'm proud to bring her story to today's audiences with the hope that they will be inspired by her kindness and tenacity,” said American producer/director Bill Peterson in an interview with Variety.

Peterson, a graduate of Emerson College in Boston, is known for the films Shenandoah (2012), Ping Pong Summer (2014) and Ziki. Seacole will be his most ambitious project to date.

Seacole perfectly encapsulates the mission of Racing Green Pictures, which is to use first-class film-making to tell important stories, and I look forward to both this film and to other exciting projects in the near future,” he said.

Seacole, born Mary Joan Grant in Kingston, rose to popularity and heroism through her work in Jamaica as a nurse during cholera and yellow fever outbreaks. She often worked with British soldiers on the island and throughout the Caribbean; after learning about the Crimean War (1853-56) she worked in that region with other nurses in British camps.

After facing rejection due to her skin colour, she opened her own hospital called the British Hotel and store in Balaclava, Crimea, supplying provisions and aid to the troops.

In July 1857, her autobiography, Wonderful Adventures of Mrs Seacole in Many Lands, was published. This was the first autobiography written by a black woman in Britain.

Seacole, 75, died in London on May 14, 1881. She was buried at St Mary's Catholic Cemetery in Kensal Green, London. She first received recognition in Jamaica 70 years after her death. A hall on The University of the West Indies', Mona campus and a ward at Kingston Public Hospital are named after her. In 2016, a statue in her honour was erected at St Thomas Hospital in Westminster, London.

Seacole was posthumously awarded the Order of Merit in 1991 by the Jamaican Government. In 2004, she was voted the greatest black Briton.


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