21-year old Zendaya is set to star in and produce the film “A White Lie.”
In the film Zendaya will portray Anita Hemmings, a light-skinned descendant of slaves who passed as white to access educational opportunities she would otherwise not have access to.
Hemmings attended Vassar College four decades before the school was integrated.
The psychological thriller will be written by Monica Beletsky and co-produced by Reese Witherspoon and Lauren Neustadter. The script is based upon Karin Tanabe’s book, “The Gilded Years.”
“She’s pulled into her elite world where she’s treated as a wealthy, educated white woman who finds romance with a moneyed Harvard student.” (Variety)
Zendaya who began acting in 2010, played a reoccurring role in the Disney show “Shake It Up.”
The Oakland native has risen quickly to become a young icon within the acting and modeling world.
Zendaya recently co-starred in “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and will appear next in “The Greatest Showman,” where she plays a trapeze artist and co-stars alongside Zac Efron–which is scheduled to hit theaters in December.
“For nearly four years, Hemmings hid her true identity and was treated as an elite white woman at the school of her dreams until her roommate grew suspicious of her race, according to Vassar’s alumnae publication. After the roommate’s father hired a private investigator who discovered that Hemmings was black, the family alerted school officials weeks before graduation. Hemmings made an appeal to the university president and was allowed to keep her secret and to graduate in 1897, four decades before Vassar was integrated.”
Early in the 2oth century and long before integration, mixed Black people who could pass as white, would do so as means to gain opportunities in education as well as social and class status.
“The country was under laws of segregation, and Black families who had risen to that level of educational aspiration or economics were still excluded from most of the elite institutions.”