Gwendolyn Carter says she has always wanted to be in a major television or movie production.
Soon, she will.
“This is my dream come true,” she said.
Carter has been cast in the first season of “Women of the Movement,” an ABC TV series on women of the civil rights movement. The production is scheduled to start filming Monday in Greenwood.
“I am so excited,” said Carter, an Itta Bena resident.
This will be her first time to appear in a production.
“It’s just something I’ve always wanted to do but just didn’t have the money to do it,” she said. “When you have a dream that you can’t make come true, it hurts.”
Carter said she rejoiced when she found out she had been cast.
“I’m very happy,” she said. “I have great-grandkids, and it’s something I want to do for them.”
The six-episode limited series, set to premiere later this year, focuses on Mamie Till-Mobley, the mother of Emmett Till, a Black 14-year-old from Chicago who was tortured and killed after whistling at a white woman at Bryant Grocery and Meat Market in Money.
Till’s murder and the subsequent acquittal by an all-white, all-male jury of the two white men responsible are credited with sparking the civil rights movement. The series is inspired by the book “Emmett Till: The Murder That Shocked the World and Propelled the Civil Rights Movement” by Devery S. Anderson, who has spoken in Greenwood and at Mississippi Valley State University several times since the 2015 release of his book.
The series will star Adrienne Warren as Mamie Till-Mobley, Tonya Pinkins as Alma Carthan, Cedric Joe as Emmett Till, Glynn Turman as Mose Wright, and Ray Fisher as Gene Mobley. Deadline reported Wednesday that Pinkins would play Alma, replacing Niecy Nash, who was initially cast for the role but left due to personal reasons.
Marissa Jo Cerar, a writer and producer for TV series such as “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “13 Reasons Why,” will serve as showrunner and executive producer. The producing team includes Jay-Z, Will Smith and Aaron Kaplan.
“We are thrilled that filming will get underway next week,” said Danielle Morgan, executive director of the Greenwood Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We have enjoyed being a part of the process, and it is so rewarding to see this important story begin to come to life. The community has been incredibly helpful and welcoming to the production. I am grateful for the opportunity for cast and crew from all over the country to experience the warmth and hospitality that today’s Mississippi is known for.”
Johnny Jennings is set to be an extra in the series. He’ll be in the background as a doctor and a passenger on a train.
“I’ve got a big doctor’s coat and a suit,” he said about his costume.
Jennings, a Greenwood photographer and city councilman, said he’s always been fascinated by the movie business since his childhood in Tutwiler.
“I’m just excited about things like this coming to town,” said Jennings.
He has been in two other productions that were filmed in Greenwood, “The Help” in 2010 and “The Duel” in 2014. When “Ode to Billy Joe” was filmed in the area in 1975, Jennings made friends with some of the cast and crew members, and they invited him onto the set, where he watched some of the scenes being filmed.
“Movies don’t come to town very often, so when they do, I want to be a part of them,” said Jennings.
He said when he was a sixth grader his teacher asked the students in his class what they wanted to be when they grew up.
“I said I wanted to be a movie star,” he recalled. Some of the children laughed at his response, and “it broke my heart, because it’s what I really wanted to be.”
He added, “If it hadn’t been for the Vietnam War, I would have been a part of the movie industry.”
Jennings is happy with where life took him. Being cast as an extra in the productions filmed locally, however, allows him to live out his sixth grade dream of being a movie star.
Brandice Brown has also been cast as an extra for “Women of the Movement” and will begin filming next week.
Brown has an extensive acting background, studying theater at the Mississippi School of the Arts in Brookhaven and earning a degree in theater from Spelman College in Atlanta.
She has been cast as an extra in other productions, such as the Academy Award winning “Selma” and the James Brown biographical musical drama “Get on Up.”
Brown, a theater teacher at Amanda Elzy High School, said she’s looking forward to being part of the production and having an opportunity to network with other aspiring actors and meet new people.
“Theater and film, that’s my love, so just to be in that atmosphere is good to me,” she said.
The Greenwood filming of “Women of the Movement” has also created a great opportunity for some of Brown’s theater students.
“I’m actually getting some of my students involved, so they can get some background work, too,” she said.
Brown talked to Jenny Alison Rodriguez, the extras casting director for the series, about getting her students involved. Then, she reached out to the Greenwood Leflore Consolidated School District’s superintendent, Dr. Mary Brown, about having some of the students be a part of the filming as credit for their theater class, and the superintendent was on board with the idea.
She then asked her students who were interested in being an extra to send her email. “I had about 15 to 20 people email me,” she said.
The students are mostly 10th, 11th and 12th grade students.
“It’s an awesome opportunity for them to be so young and get experience of being on set and meeting new people,” said Brown.
She said the biggest thing about being part of the production for her is “being able to share this opportunity with my students.”
For more information about casting calls for background actors and stand-ins, follow Jenny Alison Casting on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jacasting.
“We are still looking for men and women in Greenwood,” said Rodriguez. “We are shooting through mid-April, so this is just the beginning. Each episode, we will be adding new people to our group of extras.”
Those interested in being an extra can also email their name, age, location, height, cellphone number and a couple of photos to firstname.lastname@example.org and include WOTM in the subject line. Including a full body photo is encouraged. All photos should be current with no camera filters.
• Contact Ruthie Robison at 581-7235 or email@example.com.