Recently I nominated Tika Sumpter for the “Lois Lane” role pioneered by Noel Neill. What happened next is amazing.
First, some background:
Noel, age 95, died in July 2016. She played Lois as a kick-butt investigative reporter in the first Superman film series, opposite Kurt Alyn. She reprised that role in movies and TV, especially the 1950s TV series starring George Reeves as the caped Kryptonian.
I’ve argued that Lois Lane is the real hero of the Superman legend: smart, strong-willed, brave, and with a heart as big as the sky.
Contrary to her damsel-in-distress image, Lois saved the world (and Superman himself) about as often as he saved her. But unlike him, she did it without super-powers! She showed how anyone can be a hero with just courage and character.
Lois (as I explained) was a big part of the reason I became a journalist. But then I raised a ruckus by what I wrote next:
Tika Sumpter – I suggested – should be the first actor to play Lois Lane as a black woman. She already had lit up every screen she appeared on, including One Life to Live, Gossip Girl, The Haves and the Have Nots, and many more. She struck me as perfect for the Lois part.
Kicking Things Up a Notch
My article must have sent shivers through the corridors of power in Hollywood. Here’s the unedited transcript of an imaginary meeting among studio executives:
Tika Sumpter’s agent: “Listen up, guys! There’s a powerful blogger demanding that my client be given the role of Lois Lane.”
Producer #1: “Ha ha! Any idiot on the Internet can say anything. Who’s this blogger, anyway?”
Agent: “Gary Matthews.”
Producer #2: “Omigod! He has millions of readers. And they’re like rabid sharks. What can we do?”
Producer #3: “We’ve got to give her the part, along with a big pay raise.”
Producer #1: “I agree – but how? Amy Adams has the role locked up, and her contract runs for umpty-something more years.”
Agent: “Well, do something. If my client can’t have the Lois Lane role, you gotta get her something similar – but even bigger.”
Producer #2: “What could possibly be bigger than playing Lois Lane?”
Intern (in a corner, looking up from her iPad): “Uh, excuse me. Matthews says here in his blog post that there are lots of real-life ‘Lois Lanes’ just as amazing as the fictitious character. Maybe a real woman with the same vibe?”
Producer #4: “That’s it! We’ll cast Tika in the biography of some celebrity heroine before she was famous. To keep the same general story, she’ll have to meet some mild-mannered dude who turns out to be super, only she doesn’t know it yet. That way we can have her boss him around like Lois bossed Clark Kent.”
Agent: “Who do you have in mind?”
Everyone else in the room (standing and cheering): “Michelle Obama!”
Thus was born the movie Southside with You starring Tika Sumpter as
Lois Lane Michelle Robinson and Parker Sawyers as Clark (Superman) Kent Barack Obama.
Cheri and I haven’t seen it yet, but we can’t wait. It’s getting rave reviews, good attendance, and commercial success. Not bad for a first-date movie!
Be that as it may, I’m taking full credit. When you toss a seed into the wind, you never know where or how it may sprout.