Gabourey Sidibe as Becky on Empire.
Gabourey Sidibe as Becky on Empire. (Chuck Hodes/Fox)

Actress Gabourey Sidibe will make her feature film directorial debut with Pale Horse, a thriller focused on a reclusive African-American YA book author living with MS.

Set in the Pacific Northwest, Pale Horse is a taut psychological thriller that follows Naia, a reclusive and celebrated African-American YA book author who is living with MS. Naia finds herself ensnared in a diabolical mystery when she shelters the man who escaped captivity with her long-missing brother.

Pale Horse is based on a story by Chris Courtney Martin (The Last Laugh), with a screenplay by Asabi Lee and Paul Hart-Wilden (Wolf Town).

Gabourey Sidibe is an award-winning actor who made her film debut as the title character in Lee Daniels’ Academy Award-nominated film, Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire, a role which earned her an Academy Award Nomination. In addition to Precious, Sidibe’s credits include the recent Antebellum, the independent film Come as You Are, and the action-comedy Tower Heist. Television credits include her regular role as ‘Becky’ on the smash-hit Fox series Empire, several seasons of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story anthology, Hulu’s Difficult People and Showtime’s The Big C. She is also the author of the critically acclaimed memoir, “This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare.”

“I’m super excited to work with Gamechanger on my first feature!” said Sidibe. “This project is a true stand-out and the character of ‘Naia’ is a Bad Ass! Effie and Wellington are powerhouse visionaries and I’m so excited to be able to work with them to create this gripping thriller with complex characters.”

“Stories like Pale Horse are long overdue in the entertainment industry and Gamechanger is dedicated to financing and producing them: entertaining films that offer diversity in story-telling, characters, and filmmakers. In addition to our development and producing commitments, we plan to demystify the process of production through our social and partnership channels, pulling back the curtain on what it really takes to create a film. We want people of all communities to feel included in and empowered by this process.” Brown continues, “I have known Gabourey for some time and am always impressed with her skills as a storyteller, both as an actor or author. She will be an incredible force behind Pale Horse.”

Film industry veterans Effie T. Brown (Dear White People, Real Women Have Curves) and Wellington Love (The United States vs. Billie Holiday) are set to produce on behalf of Gamechanger Films, the production company and development fund dedicated to multi-platform projects by and about women, people of color, LGBTQ+, and people with disabilities.

Slated to shoot this fall, Pale Horse is being developed and co-financed by Gamechanger. Recent Gamechanger projects include Rebecca Hall’s Passing, starring Oscar nominee Ruth Negga and Tessa Thompson, which premiered to rave reviews at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival and sold to Netflix for nearly $16 million, as well as the debut feature from Oscar-winning producer Oorlagh George, Stranger With a Camera, which is currently in post-production.

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