'BlacKkKlansman' screenwriter to pursue Langston Hughes film

February 10, 2019 - 2:50 pm

A Kansas screenwriter who co-wrote Spike Lee's latest film, the Oscar-nominated "BlacKkKlansman," is setting his sights on his next project: a documentary about poet Langston Hughes.

Kevin Willmott, who is also a University of Kansas film professor, told the Lawrence Journal-World that he's looking forward to making a two-part documentary on the American literary icon. The film, "I, Too, Sing America: Langston Hughes Unfurled," will delve into the life of the African-American author, who spent part of his childhood in Lawrence, grew up in the Midwest and became a leader during the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s.

Willmott is co-directing the film with four-time Emmy winner Madison Davis Lacy, who also teaches film at the University of Kansas.

Willmott said one of the first books he read as a child about being African-American was Hughes' children's book, "The First Book of Negroes."

"Hughes is such a personal hero (of mine) and a figure that has deserved a big documentary for a long time," Willmott said. "People know his name, but they really don't know his story or his significance. They don't really know how amazing his story really is."

The documentary is currently in fundraising stages, while Willmott is occupied with his Academy Award nomination for best adapted screenplay. "BlacKkKlansman," the Lee-directed film that won six nominations altogether, is the true story of a black detective who infiltrated a Colorado Springs, Colorado, cell of the Ku Klux Klan in 1979.

"It's very exciting and I'm just going to try to represent Kansas and KU the best I can," he said.

Willmott and the group creating the Langston Hughes documentary hope to release the film next year. It'll likely air on television.

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