When two genius filmmakers band together, there’s bound to be movie magic. For instance, both Gabrielle Union and Billy Porter have starred and worked in the film business for years, having gained tons of experience. Though, more and more the actors have excelled at their craft and are now producing films, they’re not choosing any film project that comes their way. Given that they’re both allies of the LGBTQ community, they cater to projects that lend a voice to otherwise underrepresented and marginalized groups of people.
Furthermore, actress Gabrielle Union’s I’ll Have Another Productions has created a pitch for a queer teen-drama comedy with the working title To Be Real. The work entered into a bidding war between streaming giants Netflix and Amazon, but was ultimately sold to Amazon. The synopsis for To Be Real reads like a cross between the LGBTQ version of Superbad and Olivia Wilde’s Booksmart.
The film has been described as “an edgy, laugh-out-loud comedy about three queer high school seniors who go on the ultimate quest to attend their first New York Pride parade.” The synopsis nearly parallels with Union’s childhood, as her mother made sure she became a “well-rounded person” by taking her to her first Gay Pride parade at an early age. It’s clear to see that Gabrielle Union resonated with the project.
Not only is Union in charge of producing the film, but she’ll also be joined by Pose’s Billy Porter, who’s set to direct the project. While Porter has worked on a number of noteworthy projects, such as Pose and the upcoming Amazon film Cinderella, he’s already made his first directorial debut on another queer film What If? back in July of this year.
According to sources, the Orion Pictures film is “a modern coming-of-age story that follows a trans high school senior navigating an unexpected relationship.” Obviously, given Billy Porter’s impressive resume and background, he’s qualified to direct Union’s To Be Real.
Though, Billy Porter’s not the only one keeping busy these days. Gabrielle Union herself has been making quite a name for herself in the world of film. She’s evolved from a renowned actress, an author and now owns her first film production company, I’ll Have Another.
In recent years, Union has produced films based off the works of noteworthy black authors Tamara Winfrey-Harris and George M. Johnson, who wrote “The Sisters Are Alright” and “All Boys Aren’t Blue.
In particular, Johnson’s memoir-turned-film adaption by Union, details the story of the authors life, growing up as queer black man. His bestselling memoir chronicles the entirety of his life, first living out his childhood in New Jersey, then Virginia in his adult years. Deadline described the book as a story that analyzes the “duality of being black and queer . . . it addresses topics of toxic masculinity and gender identity.”
In a released statement, Johnson spoke on the significance of his book by making sure “the next generation of black queer children had a book they could connect and relate to.” Furthermore, he thanked Union for having a hand in bringing his story to life.
Speaking of which, the L.A’s Finest star shared a few words herself about the film project. “Queer black existence has been here forever yet rarely has that experience been shown in literature or film and television . . . Being a parent to a queer identifying daughter has given me the platform to make sure that these stories are being told in a truthful and authentic way and George’s memoir gives you the blueprint for that and more.” Clearly, Union had close ties with the film, as well as her current project To Be Real.
Union’s statement referred to her daughter Zaya’s influence on her decision to produce a film focusing on the LGBTQ community. Union’s daughter Zaya came out and identified as a transgender woman at 12 years old. Despite the harsh backlash she’s faced, Union and her husband Dwayne Wade have shown nothing but love and support for their brave daughter.
Gabrielle Union and Billy Porter are definitely the right people to make the queer teen drama-comedy To Be Real a reality.