zendaya is making a movie about the first black woman to graduate from vassar college

Anita Hemmings snuck into the prestigious school 50 years before it began admitting black students.

by Isabelle Hellyer
14 November 2017, 7:24am

Zendaya, via @zendaya/Instagram

Zendaya, ever the multi-hyphenate, has signed on as lead in an Anita Hemmings biopic, as Deadline has it. The actor will also produce the film alongside Reese Witherspoon, adapting Karin Tanabe’s The Gilded Years, a novel which lightly fictionalised Anita's real-life experiences as the first black woman to graduate from America's elite Vassar College.

Vassar didn't begin accepting black students until 1940 (awful and evil) but white-passing Anita attended (keeping her identity secret) in the 1890s. Reese and Zendaya's adaptation of the novel, titled A White Lie, sees Anita's place at the school threatened when her dorm-mate's vindictive father makes it his mission to out her to the school board.

A White Lie is the first feature film Zendaya's produced, though she's not without experience, having already served as co-producer on 40 episodes of her Disney Channel show K.C. Undercover. Phew! Not a bad CV for a 21-year-old.

Editor's note: This article originally ran with a misspelling of Vassar College. We apologise for the mistake.

Reese Witherspoon