ABC’s ‘Women of the Movement’ Gave Ray Fisher the Chance to Go Beyond ‘Hashtag Support’ After WarnerMedia Racism Accusations

·4 min read

Ray Fisher’s casting in ABC’s upcoming “Women of the Movement” series about the brutal 1955 murder of 14-year-old African-American Emmett Till is just what the “Justice League” actor needed amid his ongoing public accusations against WarnerMedia about racially motivated behavior at the studio and inappropriate treatment on the set of the 2017 Joss Whedon-directed DC film.

“Honestly, it came right on time. It came right on time,” Fisher, who was brought onto the project in December of last year, told reporters during a virtual press conference for the ABC limited series Thursday. “When I sat down with [creator/showrunner] Marissa [Jo Cerar] ‘MJ,’ and [director/executive producer] Gina [Prince-Bythewood], I told them, ‘It means a lot to me, right now, in this moment.’ Everything that was 2020, and I think I can speak for us all when I say, this project is bigger than any issue that I’ve ever had. This piece is bigger than any specific issue that anybody I’ve known personally has ever had.”

WarnerMedia launched an investigation last fall after Fisher publicly accused Whedon of “gross, abusive, unprofessional” behavior on the set of “Justice League” after he took over production from original director Zack Snyder due to a family emergency. Fisher said Whedon’s behavior was enabled by then-DC Entertainment president Johns and by Berg, former co-president of production at Warner. Berg left the company in December 2017 as part of a “restructuring,” while Johns stepped down seven months later. In September 2020, Fisher began to criticize DC Films president Walter Hamada — who in January renewed his deal with the studio through 2023.

By late November, Whedon announced he was exiting “The Nevers,” a passion project that was ordered to series at WarnerMedia’s HBO in 2018. Two weeks later, WarnerMedia announced that it had concluded its investigation into Fisher’s accusations and had taken unspecified “remedial action” against unidentified individuals.

Since then, Fisher has continued his Twitter campaign against the studio and its leadership, tweeting that WarnerMedia should release the findings of its investigation into the reshoots on “Justice League,” following remarks made by WarnerMedia Studios CEO Ann Sarnoff in an interview with Variety about the company’s evaluation of Whedon’s conduct on set.

“To be able to join up with this and to actually be able to put action behind the words, to be able to tell this story and not just ‘hashtag support,’ and do all these things internet-wise that may or may not have some effect on the grand scheme of things, but to be able to get on set to tell this story that’s going to affect the minds of generations to come, it’s, like, that’s where the real work is,” Fisher said Thursday during the “Women of the Movement” panel. “So I commend MJ, Gina and everybody that we’ve got here in front of us. It’s meant a lot. It’s meant the world to me.”

The six-episode series “Women of the Movement” is based on the true story of Mamie Till-Mobley, who in 1955 risked her life to find justice after her son, Emmett, was brutally murdered in the Jim Crow South. Unwilling to let Emmett’s murder disappear from the headlines, Mamie chose to bear her pain on the world’s stage, emerging as an activist for justice and igniting the Civil Rights movement as we know it today.

Fisher (who plays Gene Mobley, Mamie’s partner and later husband after Emmett’s death) was joined on the panel by “Women of the Movement” creator and executive producer Marissa Jo Cerar and his co-stars Adrienne Warren (who plays Mamie), Cedric Joe (Emmett), Tonya Pinkins (Alma) and Glynn Turman (Mose Wright).

When he was cast in the series last December, Fisher says he “wasn’t looking for, necessarily, Black-specific work to do.”

“This felt like it came at the absolute right time for me because this is what I was feeling, this is what I’ve desired to express and this is a story that needed to be told to the world,” he continued. “I didn’t think I would have the experience that I had, to be completely honest with you, I didn’t think I would have the experience I had until I got on set and we actually got together and started talking about the ideas with people face to face. Obviously COVID was another barrier, and thankfully they took care of us all on that front, but I think we all knew we were working on something extremely powerful when we first got together for that first Zoom table read. And that’s what really sort of lit things up for me.”

“Women of the Movement” premieres Thursday, Jan. 6 at 8/7c on ABC and will air in three parts over three consecutive weeks.

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