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  • Rachel Montpelier

Patricia Clarkson Will Topline Rachel Feldman’s Lilly Ledbetter Biopic

Via Women and Hollywood |

Rachel Feldman’s political thriller about fair pay whistleblower and activist Lilly Ledbetter has found its leading lady. Patricia Clarkson will take on the titular character in “Lilly,” a press release announced.

“Lilly Ledbetter was a factory worker who had been paid 40% less than men with the same job for twenty years simply because of her sex. Through David and Goliath trials, this aggrieved Alabama wife and mother, single-handedly motivated President Obama to sign his first piece of legislation in her name,” the release details. “Following in the footsteps of other classic films that share the narrative of one woman’s fight for justice, ‘Lilly’ focuses on a heartbreaking personal story, and the tension-filled stakes behind her political achievements.”

This has been a longtime passion project for Feldman: the script, which she wrote with Adam Prince, made the 2014 Athena List, an annual collection of the best unproduced screenplays focusing on women leaders. Last year, Meryl Streep began backing the film, offering her support to help bring it to fruition.

Ledbetter worked for over two decades in an Alabama Goodyear Factory. After enduring years of grueling labor, sexual harassment, and favoritism, she discovered that she was being paid significantly less than the men doing the same job. She sued Goodyear and won, but the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the decision because she filed her claim more than 180 days after receiving her first discriminatory paycheck. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg read Ledbetter’s dissent and urged Congress to look further into the matter. This led to the Fair Pay Restoration Act, which states that the 180-day statute of limitations on filing an equal pay lawsuit resets with every new paycheck that is affected by that previous discrimination.

“Playing Lilly is truly an honor,” Clarkson said. “I’m thrilled to bring this extraordinary woman to life.”

Feldman added, “There have been many films made about an ordinary citizen who fights entrenched, monolithic systems, but as a filmmaker, what interests me is not the struggle per se, but the psychological cost of activism. Though Lilly never received a dime in reparations, she became the face of an issue, and speaking up for others defined a life of purpose, fulfilling her destiny. I believe Lilly’s story of radical resilience is a theme that will resonate around the world.”

An impact campaign focusing on equity and safety for women in the workplace has been planned to coincide with “Lilly’s” release.

Feldman has directed over 75 hours of television. She’s helmed episodes of “Blue Bloods,” “Criminal Minds,” and “Sisters,” among many other shows. She previously served as chair of the DGA Women’s Steering Committee.

“House of Cards,” “Out of Blue,” and “Sharp Objects” are among Clarkson’s more recent credits. She received a Golden Globe for the latter, and scored an Oscar nomination for her supporting turn in “Pieces of April.” She won two Emmys for her guest spots on “Six Feet Under.”

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