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Larenz Tate Set to Play Legendary Motown Records Founder Berry Gordy in Lionsgate and Universal Pictures International's "MICHAEL"

By Tammy Reese



LIONSGATE AND UNIVERSAL PICTURES INTERNATIONAL’S “MICHAEL” CASTS NEW KEY ROLES FEATURING PROMINENT FIGURES


Breaking News!


Larenz Tate Has Been Tapped to Play Legendary Motown Records Founder Berry Gordy


Acclaimed Artist Diana Ross Will be Played by Kat Graham; La Toya Jackson Will be Played by Jessica Sula; Gladys Knight to be Portrayed by Liv Symone;

Kevin Shinick to play Dick Clark


Music Industry Icon Quincy Jones to be Played by Kendrick Sampson


KeiLyn Durrel Jones Will Play Trusted Friend and Confidante Bill Bray in the Highly Anticipated Film


Lionsgate and Universal Pictures International announced today they have cast several new key roles in the highly anticipated film “Michael,” the Michael Jackson biopic, now in production, with a group of individuals who featured prominently throughout Michael’s life.


Chief among them is Larenz Tate, who plays Motown Records founder and impresario Berry Gordy — the man who redefined American music by developing and giving a national platform to such acts as Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, Diana Ross & the Supremes, the Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, the Four Tops, Gladys Knight and the Pips — and the Jackson 5 — to name a few.


Tate currently stars in Starz’s Power Book II: Ghost, after starring for six seasons on the network’s Power. He is represented by Fatmata Kamara at Indepedent Artist Group and John Meigs at Hansen, Jacobson, Teller, Hoberman, Newman, Warren, Richman, Rush, Kaller, Gellman, Meigs & Fox.

 

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Other new prominent roles include:


  • Kat Graham plays the legendary Diana Ross, lead singer of the chart-topping Motown group The Supremes, who was one of the label’s most successful groups in the 60’s before Diana embarked on a celebrated and decades-long solo career in the 70’s, along with acclaimed acting roles. Given her star power and influence, Motown would have Diana officially introduce the Jackson 5 to the world. She remained a life-long influence on Michael.


Up next, Graham will star Tyler Perry’s first film for Amazon Studios, Black, White & Blue. Her latest film was Netflix’s Love in the Villa. As a recording artist she released her fourth album, “Long Hot Summer,” and recently announced her upcoming single. Graham is represented by UTA and Untitled Entertainment.


  • Jessica Sula plays Michael’s older sister La Toya, the fifth child and middle daughter of the Jackson family, who first gained recognition in the mid-1970’s on the family’s variety TV series “The Jacksons.” She went on to launch a solo career releasing multiple albums in the 1980s.

Sula is known for playing Marcia in M. Night Shyamalan’s 2016 horror film Split opposite Anya Taylor-Joy, as well as her role of Louise Hobbs in Scott Frank’s Godless for Netflix. She also starred as the character Grace Blood in the third generation of the British television series “Skins.” She is represented by 3 Arts Entertainment and Gersh Agency.


  • Liv Symone will play Gladys Knight, whose soulful voice and electric performances alongside her family (as the Pips) produced several #1 hits for Motown, including “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”; later, her signature song, “Midnight Train to Georgia,” would bring worldwide popularity to the Empress of Soul.

Symone is a recording artist and actress best known for her performance on Starz’s “Power Book III: Raising Kanan.” She has also performed on Broadway in “Aladdin.” She is represented by Brave Artists Management and Stewart Talent.


  • Kendrick Sampson plays legendary, 28-time Grammy Awards\®-winning songwriter, composer, and producer Quincy Jones, who first met Michael when he was just 12 years old. The pair would go on to collaborate on three of Michael’s most successful albums: “Off the Wall” (1979), “Thriller” (1982), and “Bad” (1987).


Sampson will next star opposite Al Pacino, Ron Livingston, and Alexander Ludwig in Killing Castro. Best-known for his role on “Insecure,” his most recent credits include the male lead in Something from Tiffany’s for Amazon. He is represented by CAA and John Meigs at Hansen, Jacobson, Teller, Hoberman, Newman, Warren, Richman, Rush, Kaller, Gellman, Meigs & Fox.


  • KeiLyn Durrel Jones plays Bill Bray, who was originally hired by Joe Jackson in the 1970’s as security for the Jackson 5. Bray went on to work exclusively with Michael for nearly three decades, becoming one of his most trusted friends.

Jones can be seen in the new Onyx/Hulu series “How to Die Alone”; he also recently recurred in the final season of the Max series “The Other Two.” He is represented by Talentworks and Jennifer Wiley-Stockton of JWS Entertainment.


  • Kevin Shinick plays Dick Clark, host of “American Bandstand,” where the Jackson 5 made a legendary early appearance in their rise to fame.



Shinick is an Emmy Award-winning writer, a bestselling author, a celebrated comic book creator, a Broadway veteran, and the former host of the PBS series “Where In Time Is Carmen Sandiego?” Equally known for his work as a writer/producer/actor on Adult Swim’s “Robot Chicken” as well as Cartoon Network’s “MAD” for which he also served as showrunner, Shinick is a multiple Annie Award-winning producer and the author of the bestselling novel Star Wars: Force Collector, He is represented by Rob D’Avola & Associates and The Gotham Group.


“I’m thrilled that we were able to bring together such a gifted group of actors for this film,” said producer Graham King. “What they bring to these key roles provides a rich backdrop for the movie, adding to the extraordinary ensemble.”


Lionsgate and Universal Pictures International have slated the worldwide release for April 18th, 2025. The film is now in production.


Jackson’s nephew Jaafar Jackson will be introduced to worldwide audiences in the starring role of the beloved musical icon. Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, The Equalizer films) is directing the film with Oscar® winner Graham King/GK Films (Bohemian Rhapsody, The Aviator, The Departed) producing, from a script by three-time Oscar® nominee John Logan. Prince Jackson, Michael’s eldest son, is working with the production on set side-by-side with the filmmakers on behalf of his siblings.


Michael will bring audiences a riveting and honest portrayal of the brilliant yet complicated man who became known worldwide as the King of Pop. This epic, cinematic film will examine Jackson’s triumphs and tragedies — from his human side, to his public and private struggles, to the accusations and the 24/7 media microscope Jackson lived under, even at his artistic apex. The all-star filmmaking team will also capture Michael’s undeniable creative genius, recreating his most memorable, iconic performances. As never before, audiences will experience an inside look at one of the most influential, trailblazing artists the world has ever known.


As previously announced, the cast also includes Academy Award® nominee Colman Domingo, Nia Long, Miles Teller and Laura Harrier, all in key roles, along with 9-year-old Juliano Krue Valdi playing young Michael. Also announced are the eight actors who will play Michael Jackson’s brothers in the Jackson 5 — Jermaine, Marlon, Tito, and Jackie — as the characters age in the upcoming biopic.


Michael will be produced by King and the co-executors of the Michael Jackson estate, John Branca and John McClain. Lionsgate is distributing the film domestically, while Universal Pictures International will handle all international territories apart from Japan, which Lionsgate will oversee.


About Lionsgate:

Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF.A, LGF.B) encompasses world-class motion picture and television studio operations aligned with the STARZ premium subscription platform to bring a unique and varied portfolio of entertainment to consumers around the world. The Company’s film, television, subscription, and location-based entertainment businesses are backed by a 20,000+ title library and a valuable collection of iconic film and television franchises. A digital age company driven by its entrepreneurial culture and commitment to innovation, the Lionsgate brand is synonymous with bold, original, relatable entertainment for audiences worldwide.


About GK Films:

GK Films is one of the foremost creative forces in both major motion pictures and independent features. Helmed by Academy Award-winning producer, Graham King, the company has produced and executive produced more than 45 films, grossing over $1.8 billion at the domestic box office and over $4.6 billion worldwide. Heralded by critics and film groups, GK Films’ projects have been nominated for 71Academy Awards, 42 Golden Globe Awards and 66 British Academy Film Awards, among other accolades. The company produced the 2018 global phenomenon “Bohemian Rhapsody”, which earned star Rami Malek an Oscar® for his jaw-dropping portrayal of Freddie Mercury and is the second highest grossing musical biopic of all time. Previous GK Films projects include Martin Scorsese’s 2006 crime drama, THE DEPARTED, which garnered King the Best Picture Academy Award as a producer. Additionally, GK Films produced the critically acclaimed films WORLD WAR Z, ARGO, HUGO, RANGO, THE TOWN and TOMB RAIDER, as well as TRAFFIC, THE AVIATOR, GANGS OF NEW YORK, ALI and BLOOD DIAMOND. Up next, the company is producing the highly anticipated Michael Jackson biopic MICHAEL and is in development on the story of the Bee Gees for the big screen.


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TAMMY REESE


Tammy Reese began her career as a theater actress performing in 60 live stage shows a year with The Media Unit TV and Stage Production Company. She also directed the weekly live TV show Rough Times Live.


Eventually, she went to Empire State College to obtain her degree in media studies. After graduation, she did more theater and wrote and produced her own videos to spread awareness on social issues through the arts.


Tammy is an award-winning journalist and is best known for her legendary interviews with Sharon Stone, Angela Bassett, Jasmine Guy, Ross Marquand, Sigourney Weaver, Phylicia Rashad, Billy Porter, Steven Yeun, Luke Evans, Geena Davis, Morris Chestnut, Nelly, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Leon, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Giancarlo Esposito, Jennifer Connelly, Laurence Fishburne, Vivica A. Fox, Omar Epps, Joseph Sikora, Ryan Coogler, Carmen Electra, Essie Davis, Donell Jones, Ryan Coogler and many more.


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