Deadly Sexy the Movie (!): Beverly Jenkins on Her Book-to-Film Project
“Can I just say this, I LOVE Beverly Jenkins,” author and movie producer Iris Bolling tells us, echoing a sentiment felt across the romance industry. A USA Today bestselling author of nearly 40 titles, Jenkins has built a growing fan base since publishing her first book in 1994. She’s won multiple Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Awards and has been featured in People magazine and on NPR. And now she’s after another career achievement: seeing one of her books on the big screen.
“Deadly Sexy is one of my readers’ most beloved books because of the characters,” Jenkins says of the book she and Bolling are working to get made into a film. “JT is a strong, powerful woman and Reese is awesome. You get to see a successful black man, his positive family dynamics, which we don't see a lot if at all on major media.”
Bolling agrees, which is one reasons she picked this story of Jenkins’s to translate to film. “Strong, positive characters of color seem to be close to extinction in the books-to-film industry. We see them as friends and co-workers, but rarely as leading heroes and heroines.”
“You can count the number of Hollywood done African-American romances on one hand,” Jenkins tells us. “Waiting for Hollywood with an African-American cast — I'd have to have two lifetimes.”
Instead, the women have decided to helm the project themselves. “Being an independent author gave me the fortitude to dream that a book-to-film project could be done independently as well,” Bolling told us. So she took the first two books in her political thriller series, The Heart, and created two, six-episode seasons. After stints on local television, season one is available on YouTube and season two can be viewed on Amazon Video.
“It takes unbelievable dedication, long hours on set, days of little sleep and a ton of laughter to produce a movie,” Bolling tells us. “It’s a remarkable experience.”
An experience the ladies are ready to create together.
“Iris decided to greenlight herself,” Jenkins says, “And we're going to greenlight Deadly Sexy.”
The movie now has a script, which is with a casting director. Bolling plans to eventually stream the movie on Amazon Video after traveling for several premieres and book events.
“We are going to have open auditions for each role. If there is anyone out there itching to get in front of the camera, be on the lookout for casting calls on the Siri Austin Facebook page,” Bolling says.
It’s been an important part of the movie-making process to her, to help others find their path. Of creating The Heart episodes, she says, “I am most proud of are the people who jump-start their careers from our projects. Some of our cast members are now in feature films. Many of our interns who worked behind the scenes are now working in the film industry.”
For now, the women are mainly focused on fundraising. They’ve raised almost half of their $100,00 goal in the seven months since launching the crowd-funding page. There are incentives to encourage giving, including premiere tickets, from $500 and up, and smaller tokens like an ebook and a thank you note from Jenkins, for donations of $100 and smaller. Thus far they’ve gathered almost 900 donations.
“I want readers to believe in this project like we believe in it,” Bolling says. “It takes support, financial and word of mouth, to produce a film project. Some of what needs to be secured are the crew, cast, equipment, studio space, locations, travel accommodations for cast and crew, craft services, editors and editing expenses, filming insurance, permits, and so forth.”
Jenkins is sure she'll make this dream a reality. “Iris and I are determined to get this book to film,” Jenkins tell us. “We're willing to be the little engine that could and keep chugging along.”