The latest Regina King film is set to debut on Amazon Prime at midnight on Jan. 15, 2021.
On one incredible night in 1964, four icons of sports, music, and activism gathered to celebrate one of the biggest upsets in boxing history. When underdog Cassius Clay, soon to be called Muhammad Ali, (Eli Goree), defeats heavy weight champion Sonny Liston at the Miami Convention Hall, Clay memorialized the event with three of his friends: Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.) and Jim
Brown (Aldis Hodge).
Based on the award-winning play of the same name, and directed by Regina King, One Night In Miami… is a fictional account inspired by the historic night these four formidable figures spent together.
It looks at the struggles these men faced and the vital role they each played in the civil rights movement and cultural upheaval of the 1960s.
More than 40 years later, their conversations on racial injustice, religion,
and personal responsibility still resonate.
A Happy Accident and An Obsession
The idea for the play which evolved into the movie One Night In Miami…came to Kemp Powers, who wrote the script for both the play and the movie, by accident and maybe by fate.
“I stumbled across the idea while reading a book about the intersection of sports and the civil rights movement. It mentioned that following his first defeat of Sonny Liston, Cassius Clay, who would one day become Muhammad Ali, went back to the Hampton House Hotel in Overtown, Florida near Miami where he spent a quiet evening in conversation with friends Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, and Jim Brown,”
“This was just a little paragraph in a book that kind of blew my mind at the time. I read that paragraph once, then I had to go back and read it a few more times and go, wait a minute.”
That accident became an obsession.
“I couldn’t get that paragraph out of my mind. After all, these were four of my heroes. I became very obsessed about this idea of discovering how these men met and why they were hanging out with one another,” explains Powers. “I read every biography I could on each of the four men. I dug up every
interview that I could find. The more I learned about them, the more that it seemed natural that they would have been drawn to one another. They were unapologetic in their art. They were unapologetic in their political beliefs. And in the early 1960s to be a free, unapologetic Black man was quite a rarity.”
Part of the reason Powers penned the play is the generational relevance of the conversation that took place in the Hampton House Hotel still has today.
“I wrote the play because the lives of all four of these men speak to me. The debate and conversation they engage in during the stage play is actually the same debate that I would have in my dormitory with my friends when I was attending Howard University,” explains the writer.
“It’s this question of what are the social responsibilities of an artist of color? Should I want to have social responsibilities? Can I just be an athlete? Can I just be a singer? Can I just be an artist? Why do I always have to be a Black artist? And the question is, should you embrace that? Should you try to go away from it? And that was the
discussion that I was having in the 1990s in my dormitory, and I’m sure that there’s a group of teenagers and young adults of color having that debate right now in their dormitory.”
One Night in Miami, the play which is an imagining of what may have transpired that night, premiered at the Rogue Machine Theater in Los Angeles in June of 2013. The play’s premiere production garnered