WATCH: First Look at Danielle Brooks as Mahalia Jackson in Lifetime Biopic


Danielle Brooks is returning to her musical roots in Robin Roberts Presents: Mahalia.

The Orange Is the New Black actress, 31, stars as gospel legend and civil rights activist Mahalia Jackson in the upcoming Lifetime biopic — and PEOPLE has the exclusive first look at the transformation.

In the trailer, Brooks’ Jackson attempts to navigate her rising fame amid the Civil Rights Movement. “All these white folks tell me how wonderful I am, then they get mad when I buy a house in their neighborhood,” she says.

The real Mahalia Jackson live at 1970 Newport Jazz Festival

Born in New Orleans, Jackson skyrocketed to international fame in 1947 with her song “Move On Up a Little Higher.” An active supporter of the Civil Rights Movement, she sang at numerous rallies, including the March on Washington in 1963 alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in the hope that her music would encourage and inspire racial equality. She died at age 60 in 1972.

“Dear Lord,” she says in the trailer, “your gift wasn’t my voice, your gift was my purpose.”

Brooks has credited her former Color Purple Broadway costar Jennifer Hudson for initially piquing her interest in the role.

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SOURCE: PEOPLE, Jodi Guglielmi

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