Tony winner and Oscar nominee Cynthia Erivo will lead a biopic about Sarah Forbes Bonetta, a West African princess (born Omoba Aina) of the Yoruba tribe who was orphaned and enslaved by the Dahomey Kingdom and eventually given to Queen Victoria, who became a godmother to her in 19th century Great Britain.
Deadline reports that Erivo will also produce the BBC Film project alongside Solome Williams of Edith’s Daughter, SunnyMarch’s Leah Clarke and Adam Ackland, and So & So’s Rienkje Attoh. Benedict Cumberbatch is on board as an executive producer.
“As a Nigerian-British woman, to get the opportunity to tell the story of another Nigerian British woman who until now has been erased from the history books, is an honor,” Erivo says. “Miss Sarah Forbes Bonetta, Omoba Aina, is truly a passion of mine and I’m so pleased to have been able to find partners in the incredible women, Leah Clarke and Rienkje Attoh, to tell the story and finally give her a voice. I cannot wait to dive into her story. She is indeed the forgotten princess, forgotten no more.”
Erivo earned two nominations for the 2019 film Harriet: for her lead performance as the title abolitionist and as a writer of the original song “Stand Up.” Since making her Broadway debut with a Tony-winning turn in The Color Purple, Erivo has maintained her ties to the theatre community while appearing in such films as Bad Times at the El Royale and Widows. She also plays Aretha Franklin in Nat Geo’s upcoming season of Genius.