Reese Witherspoon has made a habit over the past few years of picking female-centered projects. From Gone Girl to Wild to this year’s Emmy-winning smash Big Little Lies, Witherspoon is using her power in Hollywood to amplify women’s voices in front of and behind the camera, and we’re so here for that. Now Zendaya is adding to the girl power by collaborating with Witherspoon as a co-producer on an amazing new film—and she’ll star in it too.
Deadline reports that Witherspoon’s production company, Hello Sunshine, will produce a new psychological thriller, A White Lie. The movie’s based on the Karin Tanabe novel The Gilded Years and centers on a light-skinned black woman named Anita Hemmings (who will be played by—wait for it—Zendaya). Hemmings was the first black women to graduate from Vassar College in 1897—a time when African Americans weren’t allowed to attend the school. Hemmings passed as a white woman to get her degree.
The movie will show Hemmings fully immersing herself into upper-class New York society, where she’s treated as a wealthy white woman. She even finds romance with a rich Harvard student, but he doesn’t know her real identity (nor does anyone else). She has to keep it a secret—hence, ya know, the title.
This project seems like a perfect fit for Zendaya, who’s spoken candidly in the past about wanting to tell more black women’s stories. In fact, she echoed this sentiment at Glamour‘s Women of the Year Awards on Monday night, where she presented congresswoman Maxine Waters with a lifetime achievement award.
“Have you ever been the only woman in a room? What about the only black woman in a room? Our next honoree has reminded us over and over again when we are faced with the despair and defeating odds of that room, we can not allow it to intimidate us,” Zendaya said.