Best known for her critically acclaimed theatre productions, South African born Liesl Tommy is set to direct the movie adaptation of Trevor Noah’s autobiography, ‘Born a Crime’. The film is being executive produced by Oscar winner, Lupita Nyong’o, who will also star as Trevor’s mother.
Liesl hinted at the fact that the film will be shot in South Africa and expressed her excitement at returning home. She was born and raised in Factreton, Cape Town, but due to apartheid, her family moved to Massachusetts in the US when she was 15.
— Liesl (@LieslTommy) March 27, 2018
Liesl is a highly acclaimed and popular theatre director who made history when she was the first women of colour to be nominated for a Tony. The Tony Awards recognizes excellence in live Broadway theatre and she was nominated for her play, Eclipsed. Her play also made history with the first all-black female cast and production team on Broadway. The South African’s play also starred Lupita, who is from Kenya and was written by Danai Gurira, whose parents are from Zimbabwe.
Liesl’s professional resume does not just include directing plays. She has taught master classes in acting, directing, and new play development internationally at The Juilliard School, Trinity Rep/Brown University, The Strasberg Institute, and New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. She was also awarded the NEA/TCG Directors Grant, is an artistic associate at Sundance Theatre Institute and has won both the Obie and Lucille Lortel Award for outstanding directing.
Some of Liesle’s plays include the world premieres of Party People, The White Man – A Complex Declaration of Love, The Good Negro, A History of Light and Hamlet. She also directed an episode of the television series, Queen Sugar, which is executive produced by Oprah Winfrey.
Of the film she wrote the following on her Facebook profile: “So, when I went home to Cape Town for Christmas in 2016 I gave my dad, my brother, and some uncles this book BORN A CRIME by Trevor Noah for Christmas presents. Little did I know I would one day be sharing this announcement. To think I’ll be shooting this feature film in South Africa…just no words.”