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.

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