Mahershala Ali is said to be starring in an upcoming HBO limited bio-series on the legendary boxer Jack Johnson. The series is described as “unapologetically Black, no holds barred telling of Jack Johnson’s life. This description is fitting as Johnson lived his life in a similar fashion.
The series titled Unruly, will showcase the life of Johnson as the first Black heavyweight champion. The series will depict his rise to greatness and the price he paid for the color of his skin and his defiance to the status quo of the time. Johnson became heavyweight champion of the world in December 26, 1908 he faced great racism on his journey to becoming champion and even greater racism while reigning as the champion.
Unruly will be based on the Ken Burns documentary Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson and the book by Geoffrey C. Ward. HBO originally had it in development in 2013 with Beau Willimon set to write. Now it is said that writer Dominique Morisseau will pen the script for Unruly.
Morisseau, Ali, Willimon, and Tom Hanks are among the executive producers for the series. One of Ali’s first acting gigs was portraying Jack Johnson in a stage production of The Great White Hope back in 2000. Ali has since expressed interest in playing Johnson on the big or small screen. HBO has finally seen it fit to make that happen.