Viola Davis to Star in ‘Small Great Things’ Film Adaptation

By Sameer Rao Jan 31, 2017

Golden Globe– and SAG Award-winning actress Viola Davis ("Fences") will star in an upcoming film about a Black nurse’s legal battle after she tried to save a White supremacist couple’s dying newborn child.

Deadline reported yesterday (January 31) on Davis’ starring role in the adaptation of Jodi Picoult’s ("My Sister’s Keeper") 2016 novel "Small Great Things." The book focuses on Ruth Jefferson, an experienced labor and delivery nurse whose hospital told not to care for a White supremacist couple’s child. Jefferson defies those instructions and performs CPR when the baby goes into cardiac distress while she is the only person available to help. The baby dies, and Jefferson stands trial with a White public defender who insists on not bringing race into the courtroom.

Picoult disclosed in a TIME op-ed last year that "Small Great Things" was inspired in part by nurse Tonya Battle’s racial discrimination lawsuit against Flint, Michigan’s Hurley Medical Center. Battle sued her employer after her superior granted a swastika-tattooed father’s wish not to let any Black nurses treat his newborn child. The Flint Journal/ reported in 2013 that the hospital settled with Battle for more than $100,000.

Deadline added that Julia Roberts ("August: Osage County") will co-star. Marc Platt ("La La Land") and Adam Siegel ("Drive") will co-produce.