Whoopi Goldberg Shares How George Floyd’s Impact On The Black Lives Matter Movement Helped Push Till To Finally Getting Made

Movies cost millions of dollars, so if a studio isn’t willing to go for an idea, it’s an uphill battle to get it made. Back in 2015, Keith Beauchamp began a Kickstarter campaign to get the story of Emmett Till made into a movie after his extensive investigation into the case that was a key event of America's Civil Rights Movement. Till is finally releasing in theaters after seven years in the making, with the help of Whoopi Goldberg, who came on as a producer early on in the process. 

When CinemaBlend spoke to Whoopi Goldberg about the journey to bring the 2022 movie release Till to life, the actress, author, producer and The View host shared what it was like to push for such a long time in the Hollywood space to see the historical event get a movie. In her words: 

We tried everything to try to raise the money to get this done. And, you always hear that it takes a while to bring movies to the screen, but this one felt particularly long and hard. But, when people sort of responded to what was happening just in the world after George Floyd, we found that a lot more people said, ‘You know what? We should be telling these stories’. And Orion [Pictures], you know, said, ‘We'll do this with you. We think this is worthwhile’. And it's like, well, thank you. Yes. 67 years, no one's told this story yet. So it's probably a good idea.

As Whoopi Goldberg shared, it was the state of the world following the murder of George Floyd that really pushed Till to finally getting the financial backing it needed by Orion Pictures. The 2020 event that went viral, led to worldwide protests against police brutality and really sparked a new wave of public conversation around systemic racism, particularly in the United States. The Black Lives Matter movement shook the world in 2020, and if it wasn’t for that moment, it's very possible Till script could have remained sitting on a shelf. Goldberg continued: 

And, our writer, Keith Beauchamp, who really has been the stalwart man to bring this to life and was friends with Mrs. Mobley and talked to her a lot about Emmett and herself. And we are lucky because the gregariousness of Emmett as a young man, the love of a mother to a son, he was able to capture that in the script. And Chinoye, the director, was able to then work with him to create the film that you see now. And it's multi-dimensional because you see the people. They're not just photographs. You see the people. So I think people will be very glad to see this family and then sit with them and go through it as we have done.

Till has legitimate connections to the Till family, including Emmett Till’s mother, who was instrumental to the story after he was abducted, tortured and lynched while visiting family in Mississippi in 1955 from Chicago. Keith Beauchamp’s research and time spent with the people who surrounded the event gives the film the stature it needed to tell it. Goldberg initially signed on to direct the movie after jumping on as a producer, but later stepped aside for Clemency filmmaker Chinoye Chukwu to take the reins. 

Chukwu told CinemaBlend that Whoopi Goldberg was “supportive” of her point of view for Till to honor the Till story without centering it on physical violence and really honing in on the perspective of Emmett’s mother, Mamie Till-Mobley. As the movie tells it, the mother of Emmett Till insisted her son have an open casket funeral following his senseless death and decided to spend the rest of her life as an educator and activist for the Civil Rights Movement in his honor. Whoopi Goldberg also has a small role in Till as Mamie’s mother

It might be too early to predict the 2023 Oscars, but following its rave reviews, Till may certainly be part of the conversation. Till is now playing in select theaters and will get its wide release this Friday, October 28. Check out what other fall movies are coming our way here on CinemaBlend. 

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.