When writer / producer Marissa Jo Cerar (The Handmaid’s Tale) decided the Mamie and Emmett Till story spoke to her, she threw herself into months of detailed research. She oriented herself within the history of the era. She read several available accounts of the horrific and brutal murder of young Emmett Till. She made it something of life’s mission over the span of an intense summer.
It consumed her life and would consume her life for years until she finished ABC’s Women of the Movement, and, yet through it all, she felt no despair.
“I never felt despair at all. I felt honored to tell the story and just so inspired by Mamie, by her strength,” Cerar shares in an interview with Awards Daily. “I’m a mom, and I could not imagine finding that strength when my child was murdered… brutally murdered and discarded… She just kept going because of her love, her intense love for her child and for her people.”
Cerar served as show runner of this powerful limited series, which focuses on Mamie sending Emmett to visit family in the South, his kidnapping, and the eventual trial (and acquittal) for his murder. Women of the Movement features Adrienne Warren in a tragic and beautiful performance while also exploring many prominent Black voices of the period. It is as moving and inspiring as it is challenging at times to watch. Never gratuitous, Women follows the command of Mamie Till to “Let the world see” what hateful brutality did to her son, Emmett. Yet, it cycles through the story with notes of triumph, resistance, and hope.
Here, in a compelling interview with Awards Daily, Marissa Jo Cerar talks about her engagement and research process for the limited series. She talks about selecting four Black female directors to help fashion the series. Additionally, she reveals the complete awe and joy she felt in working with Tony-winner Adrienne Warren (Tina: The Tina Turner Musical) as Mamie. Finally, she talks about how the series and its strong reception impacted her career and her personal life.
Women of the Movement is available to stream on Hulu.