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Kenya Barris is writing a Russell Simmons biopic

(Photo: Jerritt Clark/Getty Images for Culture Creators)

Black-ish creator Kenya Barris is moving from upper-middle-class life to multi-million-dollar mogulhood, with Deadline reporting that Barris will soon be working on the script for a biopic about Def Jam founder Russell Simmons. Adapted from Simmons’ memoir, Life And Def: Sex Drugs Money + God will chronicle his rise from a childhood in Queens, up through his immersion in the nascent hip-hop scene, and eventual emergence as a label founder, film producer, fashion designer, and activist.

This isn’t the first time a biopic about the early days of Def Jam has been floated; in the wake of Straight Outta Comptons success back in 2015, Universal also made some noises about adapting Life And Death, with Michael B. Jordan as a potential choice to play Simmons. The project is now over at Fox, though, with Barris—who recently signed a writing deal with the studio—attempting to present a New York hip-hop counterpoint to recent West Coast-focused films like Compton and the recent Tupac biopic, All Eyez On Me.


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