Rated: PG
Release Date: 03/22/2024
Production Company: Netflix

Regina King, Lance Reddick, Lucas Hedges, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Terrence Howard, Christina Jackson, Michael Cherrie, Andre Holland, and Terrence Howard.

Director: John Ridley. Producers: John Ridley, Regina King, Reina King, Anikah McLaren, and Danielle L. Ross. Executive Producers: Ted Gadlow and Jeff Skoll. Screenwriter: John Ridley. Cinematographer: Ramsey Nickell.
By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

In the new Netflix movie "Shirley," from director/screenwriter John Ridley ("Needle in a Timestack”), Oscar and Emmy Award winning actress Regina King ("If Beale Street Could Talk") stars as political trailblazer, Shirley Chisholm who in 1968, carved her name into history by becoming the first Black woman elected to Congress.

Chisholm wasn't a flashy person, and the movie takes a rather low-key approach to her story. "Shirley" isn't your typical cradle-to-grave biopic, but instead, it focuses on Chisholm's remarkable journey starting in 1972 when she ran for President of the United States.

The film also highlights the racial and gender discrimination she encountered during her quest. Along the way, she placed her trust in politicians like former Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums (a terrific Dorian Missick, "The Burial") and Walter Fauntroy (Andre Holland, "Bones and All") who didn't necessarily have her best interests at heart.

Fortunately, Chisholm did have a supportive advisory team that included activists like Arthur Harwick Jr. (Terrence Howard, "Showdown at the Grand"), Lucas Hedges (Robert Gottlieb, "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri"), and Wesley McDonald "Mac" Holder who is played by the late, Lance Reddick ("John Wick: Chapter 4"). They became close and used their political savviness to protect Chisholm from other issues that threatened to derail her mission.

Chisholm also finds support for her cause from actress Diahann Carroll (Amirah Vann, TV's "Queen Sugar") who is inspired by the politician and her ability to shake up things.

Even Black Panther leader, Huey P. Newton (Brad James, TV's "A House Divided") comes around after a sit down with Chisholm. Newton initially had reservations about Chisholm because she met and prayed with segregationist and former Alabama Governor George Wallace (W. Earl Brown, “The Dead Don’t Hurt”) at a hospital after he was shot in Maryland and paralyzed.

"Shirley" is a good film but could have been even better if it had taken a deeper dive into Chisholm's life.

I would have liked to have seen more about what drove her to be so resilient and determined. What were Chisholm’s parents like? Was she inspired by them to achieve such greatness? What private battles and other demons--if any-- did she have to contend with?

We get to see a bit of Chisholm's struggle as she tries to juggle her political career and marriage to her husband Conrad (Michael Cherrie, "The Scrubbing Bench"). There is also a bit of friction between Chisholm and her sister Muriel St. Hill who is played by Regina King's real sister Reina King, but it doesn't provide enough spark.

Still, Regina King is commanding in "Shirley." She delivers a bold, courageous, and dignified portrayal that embodies Chisholm's indomitable spirit.

Editor's Note: Be sure to catch my movie talk segment on the Kitty O'Neal Show Fridays now at 5:17 p.m. and 6:47 p.m. on radio station KFBK 93.1 FM and 1530 AM.

Check Out This Trailer For "SHIRLEY"

Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), The American Film Institute (AFI), and a Nominating Committee Voting Member for the NAACP Image Awards.


Year Released: 1975
Running Time: 109
Production Company: Paramount Pictures
Director: Berry Gordy, Tony Richardson and Jack Wormser
Director of Photography: David Watkin
Screenwriter: John Byrum and Toni Amber
Author: Lana K. Wilson-Combs


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