Cynthia Erivo is gearing up to produce and star in a film based on the life of an enslaved princess who was gifted to Queen Victoria.
The two-time Oscar nominee and “Harriet” actress will portray Sarah Forbes Bonetta, a 19th-century Egbado princess of the Yoruba people who was “gifted” to Queen Victoria in 1850 after being orphaned and enslaved by a West African king. Bonetta, who was born Omoba Aina, was renamed upon arriving in England.
Benedict Cumberbatch will executive produce while Erivo will produce alongside Solome Williams under Erivo’s production company, Edith’s Daughter. SunnyMarch’s Leah Clarke and Adam Ackland, and Rienkje Attoh from So & So Productions will also lend a hand to production. Walter Dean Myers’ biography “At Her Majesty’s Request,” which documents the princess’ life, will be used as source material.
“I am excited to embark on this journey. It has taken a long time to get to a point where we can even begin to realize this dream. 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. 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.”
Clarke also expressed her delight to be working on a film with such a powerful history.
“It is a real privilege to be working on Sarah’s story with this incredible team. Together we hope to bring audiences a bold, modern portrait of an extraordinary woman.”
BBC Film will finance the production, though a release date and official title have yet to be revealed.