Filming for Roxanne Roxanne wrapped in 2016 and the biopic premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Netflix will finally release the story of rapper Roxanne Shanté on March 23rd after months of waiting. The Michael Larnell-directed biopic tells the story of the 14-year old Queens MC Roxanne Shanté, played by Chanté Adams, who was a member of the Juice Crew hip hop collective in the early 1980s. Roxanne Roxanne also stars Nia Long, Mahershala Ali, and Adam Horovitz, aka Ad-Rock from the Beastie Boys.
Roxanne Shanté was born Lolita Shanté Gooden in Queens, New York. She started rapping at the age of thirteen and soon rose to prominence in the hip hop community after a popular diss track, tearing into the group U.T.F.O. Shanté was a part of the Juice Crew at the age of 14 and was a force to be reckoned with on the microphone. Roxanne Roxanne tells her story about getting thrown into the hip hop lifestyle at such a young age and the struggles that Shanté went through including abuse, dealing with her mother, and pregnancy.
The official synopsis for Roxanne Roxanne taps into the early 1980s hip hop scene in Queens, New York. It provides some of the highlights without giving much away, but Roxanne Shanté’s story is a part of hip hop history and it’s intense. The brief Netflix synopsis reads.
“In the early 1980s, the most feared battle MC in Queens, New York, was a fierce teenage girl with the weight of the world on her shoulders. At the age of 14, Lolita “Roxanne Shanté” Gooden was well on her way to becoming a hip-hop legend as she hustled to provide for her family while defending herself from the dangers of the streets of the Queensbridge Projects in NYC.”
Chanté Adams, who stars as Roxanne Shanté, won the 2017 Sundance Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Performance. The biopic is long-awaited and it’s about time that we get our first look.
Mahershala Ali, who plays the role of an abusive boyfriend, recently said that it was one of the most difficult tasks he’s ever had to face as an actor. The actor went as far as to contact Roxanne Shanté for advice on the role. Shanté recalls that Ali was having a hard time sleeping at night because of the terrible things that his character does in the movie (and in real-life). She had this to say.
“Mahershala told me, this has been one of the most difficult parts I’ve ever had to play. I’m having a hard time sleeping because of what your character goes through because of me. So how do I react to that? Do I say, Oh good, so that means you’re feeling the part! Or do I hug him? So what I wind up doing was just hugging him and saying, Well, you know what, it turned out good after all.”
The trailer for Roxanne Roxanne is intense in its quick minute-and-a-half and it provides an apt caption that simply reads, “Life is a Battlefield.” Roxanne Shanté’s life was a battle on and off of the stage, struggling to prove herself to her mother, struggling to stand up to her abusive boyfriend, and struggling with motherhood herself. In 2008, her song Roxanne’s Revenge was ranked number 42 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Hip Hop Songs of all time. You can check out the first trailer for Roxanne Roxanne below, courtesy of Netflix’s YouTube channel.