Afeni Shakur, the beloved later mother of Tupac, is set to be the subject of a new biopic covering a pivotal two-year period during her time with the Black Panther party.
The project titled, “Peace, Love & Respect; the Afeni Shakur/Panther 21 story,” is spearheaded by Amaru Entertainment and the Shakur Estate and counts Jasmine Guy as one of its executive producers. Guy, who wrote the 2005 biography “Afeni Shakur: Evolution of a Revolutionary,” spoke to Variety about the film.
“I was honored when Afeni asked me to author her biography. Now, I have the opportunity to honor her life and her legacy on the screen, and I am very excited to share her remarkable story this way.”
Dina LaPolt, who worked with the Shakur Estate for many years, serves as the film’s producer. “Afeni always wanted Jasmine to write her book,” she said. “The Shakur estate could not imagine doing Afeni’s biopic without Jasmine Guy involved.”
The Afeni Shakur Story
The film explores the two years from April 2, 1969, when Afeni Shakur was arrested, alongside 20 other Black Panthers. Known as the Panter 21, they were charged with conspiracy to bomb police stations in New York. The later part covers Tupac’s birth on June 16, 1971.
Afeni Shakur married fellow Black Panther member Lumumba Shakur soon after joining the organization in 1968.
“When the trial started, Afeni had gotten pregnant when she was out on bail,” LaPolt explained. “Two of the Panthers absconded, the judge freaked out and Afeni got put back in jail. She was five months pregnant [with Tupac] and made a motion to get a glass of milk for her unborn child! She had a lot of self-confidence, and that’s our movie — it begins with the day she was arrested.”
LaPolt also wants to highlight the often-overlooked role of the women who helped run the Black Panther party. “The free breakfast programs, the medical facilities, the newsletter, information about where to go for access to education — that was run by women,” she said.
LaPolt revealed a treatment is in place for the film and discussed the next steps. “What we want to do is to take meetings with production companies. We would love to partner with ARRAY or Juvee Productions. I foresee a Black woman director, screenwriter, or Black woman production company [coming on board], that would be our dream. That would be our goal.”
Writer and director Jamal Joseph, the youngest of the “Panther 21” arrested alongside Afeni, is also an executive producer. “Afeni Shakur lived a life of challenge, power, rebelliousness, genius and beauty,” he said. “This is an origin story of a fierce, sexy, trailblazing, woman in Blackness Super Hero!”