According to Variety, Searchlight Pictures has acquired the script rights to The Defender, which will star Sterling K. Brown as the pioneering lawyer Scipio Africanus Jones.

What’s Happening:

  • Sterling K. Brown will star in The Defender as Scipio Africanus Jones, who risked his life and career to defend the Elaine Twelve — a group of 12 Black sharecroppers sentenced to death for allegedly being involved in the murder of a white man during the Elaine Massacre of 1919 in Arkansas.
  • The Defender will be directed by George Tillman Jr. (The Hate U Give), with 21 Laps’ Shawn Levy and Dan Cohen on board to produce.
  • The script is penned by E. Nicholas Mariani, originally a 2018 Black List selection, with the studio acquiring the rights to the project in a competitive situation.

George Tillman Jr. and E. Nicholas Mariani

  • Miarani will executive produce the movie alongside Danielle Reardon, with Dantram Nguyen, Katie Goodson-Thomas and Richard Ruiz overseeing the project for Searchlight.
  • Sterling K. Brown currently stars in NBC’s This Is Us and is known for his performances in American Crime Story: The People V. O.J. SimpsonBlack Panther and Frozen 2.